Why is South Africa such a violent society

Post by Palesa Mazamisa*

The heinous, brutal rape and subsequent slaughtering of Anene Booysen in South Africa’s Western Cape province has brought into the open, once again, the miry underbelly of our rainbow nation. At the heart of violence that Anene was subjected to, lies a bigger issue that South Africans wilfully shunt and ignore. This issue is our Achilles heel. It is what has our nation wondering at the gruesome nature of the violence committed against Anene with our mouths agape, spit dripping from our lips, trying to figure out what makes South Africa such a violent society.

In our post-apartheid state it is fashionable to reduce apartheid to a simple administrative error that has since been corrected. This flippant attitude to our past has resulted in a perception being pushed that the real problem facing a democratic South Africa is the vicious reverse racism that places white South Africans under a type of oppression and threat not yet seen or experienced anywhere or at any time in history.

This flippant attitude further suggests that white people have done their share for this country by voting ‘yes’ in the 1992 referendum, even allowing blacks on their teams in rugby and cricket, and referring to themselves as Africans–for heaven’s sake, only Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and the Kardashians have done more for humanity. When will the consistent and annoying references and allusions to apartheid and racism end already?

It is unfortunate that the same flippant attitude is a prevailing one, as it leads us to maintain a façade of unity. With the pretensions of a rainbow nation firmly in place, we fail to reflect with honesty on the state of our nation. A nation with a history marked by brutal and persistent violence sustained over centuries.

Cultural writer Bongani Madondo expressed it succinctly when he wagered (on Facebook) that Anene’s hideous rape and murder can be traced to South Africa’s recent excessive violent past, in particular between 1959 to 1992. Over three and a half decades, he argues, excessive violence ripped out the bowels of black families, children dancing over burning bodies of their neighbours, dogs feasting on bodies of black men, parcel bombs ripping matchbox homes apart, rape by the white system, rape by the capitalist system, rape, looting and handcuffing by police and their askaris, black brother against black brother in the Vaal, East Rand, Johannesburg Central, extreme poverty, incest, and three revolutions crushed by merciless state violence: 1960, 1976 and 1985-1990. Plus the excessive violence of the liberation parties in exile; remember Mkatashinga 1984 in Angola.

It is this reality of the violent nature of oppression that we seek to sweep under the carpet.

We don’t want to entertain that an examination of the violence in South Africa can’t be accomplished outside the context of colonisation and apartheid. We can’t discount the context of institutional and structural racism and the brutal subjugation of black people. Yet it is what we continue to do. We have in our country developed a disturbing trend that is in itself a form of violence, namely the suppression of black experiences of apartheid, unless such an experience is an expression of the greatness of the apartheid system. For is it not that without colonialism and apartheid, black people would still be scratching their bottoms trying to figure out if up is down or down is up.

Those who try to place the challenges we face as society in its proper context, are hurled with insults and abuse, and reminded that going back to the past is not helping the country move forward. Only last week, Redi Direko, a radio talk host of a popular Gauteng-based station, Radio 702, spoke of the horrors of apartheid and was showered with a flurry of messages to stop ‘exaggerating’ what happened during those ‘dark days’, as it is called, flippantly. Clearly, in our rainbow nation, violence is the answer, whether physical, verbal or emotional.

If we are to honour the life of Anene and other victims of violence, we will have to confront and be truthful about the many sources of violence plaguing this country. Read here, here and here on violence and power in South Africa. This will mean revisiting our past so that we may understand how the socialisation and normalisation of violence came to characterise the South Africa we live in today. We will not find our answers in the nature and structure of violence in India. We will find those answers in our own backyard.

* Writer/playwright Palesa Mazamisa dabbles in the art of cynicism, as well as skepticism, which she believes are necessary to survive the South African media sphere. In her spare time she is known to bake award-wining German cheesecakes.



Sean Jacobs

Also goes by Hasan Wazan. Life President.

  1. By all means examine the legacy of apartheid which was inherently abusive and explicitly violent as well as engendering violence in other forms. And such an examination should encompass all peoples and communities because even the “white” people were brutalised, albeit it in a different sense. Is sexual violence peculiar to the oppressed “races”? No – white women are also victims and white men are also perpetrators. But such an examination should seek to understand the roots of some of the violence afflicting South Africa, not to excuse it. For at the end of the day most rapists, gang or single, know rape is wrong and would be horrified if it happened to their female kith and kin.

  2. I think this is poor commentary. A number of things worry me about the piece.
    Firstly, Mazamisa conveniently ignores the plethora of culture that has foregrounded black experiences of apartheid. From Koloane to Can Themba, Serote to Rampalakeng, Tracey Rose to Johannes Phokela, I think apartheid has been adequately, exhaustively explored by black cultural practitioners, to the point where it cannot be said to have been omitted from the collective imagination. I’m not suggesting, as many white commentators do, that we should ‘just get over it’: I just don’t think it could be said to have been written out of history. The Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, the renaming of streets and cities to acknowledge struggle heroes, etc, all suggest oherwise.
    Secondly, Mazamisa ignores the role of gangs in violence; especially Western Cape gangs, and the mindset of gansterism, predate legislative apartheid by many years. Patriarchy is undoubtedly at the root of the problem of sexual violence; to place the blame solely on white patriarchy, however, is to ignore the dysfunctional aspects of Black and Coloured patriarchy that contribute to cultures of gender violence. This is simply lazy thinking on the writer’s part.
    Thirdly, Mazamisa completely leaves out the statistically-proven link between alcohol and all forms of social violence, including sexual violence. This is not to suggest that men have no responsibility for their actions, and that alcohol somehow mitigates blames: it does not. But local governments who have the stats at their fingertips on how rapes, murders, stabbings, attacks, fights etc spike on Friday and Saturday nights, but do little to bolster police presence, numbers, raids etc, bear huge macrocosmic responsibility for a populace running amok.
    Frustration, disenfranchisement, poverty and fraught political histories are realities in many countries in the world, many countries in Africa. Why does SA remain the shameful world leader in rape? Because policing is ineffective in poor areas, conviction rates in sexual violence cases are woefully low, post-incident counselling for poor victims is often non-existent (sending the social message that victim status is not taken very seriously), and an entire nation seems content to blame the past for the excesses of misanthropic psychopaths who should be euthanised.

  3. Not being from Southern Africa, and being quite ignorant of South Africa’s culture, or cultures, I cannot speak but in terms of what I had growing up in a western african country, Senegal: an established culture based on strong social traditions. This is the missing link marking any diasporic, uprooted community, and yes,SA is an uprooted community,at least culturally and emotionally.
    Apartheid did to S.African blacks what slavery did to African Americans, and what colonialism did to the political realm of Africa. It destroyed all the societal mores and traditions that regulated every ethnic/ tribal group both internally, and externally, in relation to every other group. It, instead, fostered a culture of division and survivalism that created simple cohabitation and competition where cooperation and mutual respect used to exist. Furthermore, by forcibly (physically and or economically) relocating groups, severing their links to their ancestral lands, crowding them in shanty towns where resources are scarce and space, whether physical or emotional is non-existent, the ultimate conditions are thus created for lasting poverty and established violence. This is common to any community, anywhere, which shares the same desolate circumstances.
    Additionally, the era of apartheid was markedly violent, and as every study would reflect, or maybe it is the bible, violence begets violence, and the violented will surely create other violented, for it has been to them the most powerful example of power and of relationship, the ultimate determining tool.
    The “end” of apartheid did not solve the cultural malaise, it only freed it to find and spread its expression, but this without the guiding barriers from which a country like Senegal, for example, has benefited greatly: the religious, intellectual and legacic institutions and leadership that filled the void left by the colonial powers.
    Growing up, even out of my parents’ sight, the neighbor, the shopkeeper, the religious leader, the intellectual, the singer, all would, each in his own way, continuously reassert the message that I heard at home, that certain behaviors took a toll on, and was not befitting of the individual as well as on/ of the community, and therefore, I should not, cannot, indulge in them..
    Seems to me that SA has to create a culture of non-violence that includes civil education, intellectual education, the arts, politics, social entities, a competent, assertive yet fair legal system, and more importantly, economic development, for without the latter… If everyone of note, at the local and national level reiterates the message that violence is a scourge that hurts everyone, supported by all the institutions, ultimately, the message will sink in, lastingly.

  4. It is almost as though white people think by silencing the black experience of Apartheid we and the rest of the world will forgive them for what they did. They won’t. They need to apologize and keep making amends. White people need to sit down and think of ways to apologize just like they sat down and thought of ways to brutalize.

    1. Sorry, but that will not happen. Individual guilt might be lifelong, communal guilt is however,generational. The white people who benefited from apartheid but who did not directly contribute to it, will not accept an asserted guilt lastingly. They will claim not having had a choice in which family/ situation they were born, and its inherent benefits, and they would not be completely wrong.
      As for African Americans, Tutsis, Armenians, Croatians., South Africans, Kurds, Native Indians, Aborigenes on all continents..etc, etc, grudges will be held, grievances voiced and passed down to following generations, relentlessly, for the splintered, in order to be made whole again, require both acknowledgement and amends. The world however, would have moved on, for it has no choice but to.

    2. That’s not a fair thing to say. I was born in 1991 and was three when South Africa became a democratic country. So why should I keep apologising for something I was not a part of? I am shamed by what happened under the oppressive government (I study history so I know exactly what happened) but we cannot keep putting salt in open wounds but rather let the wounds heal. Please just allow my generation to live in peace and allow South Africa to be what it can be. Because how far do we have to go back in history before we stop blaming one or the other?

    3. Please do not talk about ‘white people’ and ‘black people’. There are only ‘people’ in this world. Everyone who has lived in the Apartheid era should ask himself and herself what happened, what role he or she played, and what contribution one made to the establishment of a free, democratic and just society. Violence knows no colour. Violence is the tool of people or groups of people who failed to convince others that they chose the right direction. Violence is used to obtain money or attention or anything more than you deserve as an individual amongst other people. Violence is not a South African issue, it is a worldwide issue I am afraid. To give an example: the Netherlands society is getting more violent every day. People par example use excessive verbal violence in the social media. Open debate about burning issues is the only answer to that negative development, down South and up North!

  5. Having just started a new job as a teacher in a township school, I have been brought face to face with the levels of violence that my students are exposed to and inducted into on a daily basis. Hitting each other, whacking each other, pulling hair, pinching, scratching… all the time, any where and with abandon. Often dismissed as ‘we are just playing’. Walking past something you want and just picking it up, whether it is yours or not. Taking each others things. Taking my things. The response? Hit him. Whack him. Our history has created these physical, psychological and emotional spaces where violence and intimidation are normative. Your body is a site of struggle, your strength demonstrated by violence: taking it and giving it.

    Sue is correct too: this is not a racial issue or even a poverty issue, although poverty exacerbates the aggression and conflict over limited resources and strips dignity. At dinner parties, privileged pale people talk of how they will ‘blow an intruder’s head off’ or ‘moer anyone who touches their car’. And they mean it. Discussions of gun calibres and strategies to electrocute burglars are thrown about with abandon with no inhibition. Such resorts are considered acceptable. News24 comment threads are riddled with talk of violent responses to violence (will someone please shut those comment threads down? They are beyond awful). Drunken brawls in bars know no income or skin colour: they are ubiquitous and normalised. And I heard about Anene Booysens as a colleague recounted her bowels hanging out with a perfectly straight face: no grimace, no hushed tones, the gruesome detail retold with no consideration of propriety or tact. No one else was shocked at his account. But he–and others–were shocked when I left the room. My reaction of shock and horror to such violence was itself shocking. A human response considered unusual, odd.

    This is who we are. These are our desensitized, violent selves, feeding off each other. Gandhi said “an eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind”. No wonder we can’t see the source of our aggression. We’ve been blind for a very long time.

  6. My first most vivid memory of violence is when I was a 5 year old child, when the white Boer came to my home in Wattville looking for my aunt and my uncle. They were white soldiers about 4 them and broke down our main door. When my grandfather asked them what they wanted ,they hit him and kicked him like a football and finally took his children, my aunt and uncle. And after that my grandfather was sad for days, he lost dignity that night, trying to protect his home, his children and grandchildren. He was brutalised beaten so badly, trying to protect his family. However this violence in South Africa we do not want to talk about as if this never happened to black families in South Africa. The second incident that stays with me was when there was the state of emergency. We were playing and the police used to come then we had to run away. One of our friends could not make it. Still this stupid white police killed a poor child of age 4 years because he was too small to run away. So I breathe and remember violence of apartheid. These are only two incidences but there are many more that I try hard to forget. South Africa had the truth and reconciliation commission, but it was suppose to do much more so we can heal more of our wounds as we always go back to those pictures in our minds and hearts, of when we use to burn people in the township for being sell out and watch them burn and white police created this rule and divide to all the black township hitting and making sure they kill black people and other non-white races. This violence of today is still the results of the trauma of our black men and women. They used to reduce men to nothing, taking their dignity like my grandfather’s. Also, no one talks about the rapes of people like Sizakhele Sigasa raped and killed for being a lesbian, many of them are killed. Violence is with us. We must not pretend that is only since 94.

  7. Sue Clayton says “white women were also brutalised.”Again this is the sort of affirmative-denial perculiar and beloved by good, hardworking, fair-minded, white South Africans with good ol’ liberal values. These fair and “balanced” fellow countrymen/women always seek to tell a black person how to tell or feel or experience or deal with the psycho-emotional-spiritual trauma of the holo-caustic BRUTALITY one of the most spirit altering crimes against humanity black folks has ever been been subjected to. Reading Palesa Mazamisa’s piece I do not for once pick up any inference, directly or indirectly that she seeks to excuse brutality on others, on white women specifically. We all know–and I, the quoted Cultural Critic in the essay– have been posting several pieces on Facebook this past week and beyond, making it clear how “South Africa’s violent past affects us all: the poor and the rich, whites and blacks, Indians and everyone else, black and white wome and that it still continues to this day.” And still, Sue Clayton and her ilk cannot deny, much as they have mastered that inability for them to appreciate a specific spiritual/economic/emotional/cultural and political rape exerted on black folks by Apartheid, that black women for example are triple raped even when they are not sexually brutalised: for being women, black and economically as well as in some cases culturally subjected by both white men and black patriachy as the lowest rung of human beings in this country. I challenge Sue to challenge that specificity Palesa alludes to. We move on: Michael Smith once again performs what folks like him (well meaning folks) do on occasions like these. He runs a full pageantry of black artists who, according to him, have “exhaustively” dealt with the race pain and violence Apartheid subjected us to. Look, Michael you have a right to flaunt your black heroes, but do you really, honestyly, deep within yourself believe that Apartheid has been “exhaustively” dealt with in the Arts and Cultural sphere? When? And what was that moment that says, here’s the line, you can’t cross this, gentlemen we have heard everything about your brutalised past now lets move on? Drawn by who—not black folks for sure. Who are you to tell black folks that our pain has been “exhaustively” dealt with by your black heoes your flaunt? Does this brutalisation takes the form and impact of only a single narrative? Of a single emotion-etched pain? Is our story some Disneyland theme you can press and stop at any time your token coins have been exhausted? Don’t we deserve the space and pace we need to deal with the multiplicity of horrors we were SPECIFICALLY on the basis of the colour of our skins have put through for over 300 years, 45 of those legislated by your forebearers in this country? You know a British(white)friend of mine just reminded after reading responses to Palesa’s piece that next year the UK will be commemorating 100 year Anniv. of the World War I, specifically focusing on the devastation his country went through as a result of that. He spoke about the pain and the scars that have hardly healed, and to use his language, might “not healed if healing is a set condition for the country to move on, especially if set by outsiders to our past. Now you black South Africans have been relatively free just for a mere 18 years and now you are asked, bludgeoned in fact, to exhaust the mourning, forget and grow the fuck up. But who are these people to tell you that? What is the rold of their forefathers in the very pain you are urged to grow up out of?”. Who are they indeed?

    1. Who said I was white and South African? I never sought to tell any person how to feel or deal with their personal experiences – I merely sought to suggest that seeking to understand is fine so long as we do not seek to excuse individual crimes wholesale; I have had my own journey out of an abusive family situation and I know that I am ultimately responsible for my behaviour and its consequences, and I know that I would not want any other human to experience what I did (which was not that severe, I acknowledge, and my path has not been smooth and without victims of my making). It is upon this that I base my argument, not on any profound ideology. I acknowledge that I also had certain advantages to help me overcome my traumas, however limited Bongani may like to assume they were based on my name alone – education being chief amongst those as it empowered me not so much economically as mentally; and my own pig-headedness and independence of mind which was ironically instilled by the abuser in our family. So my argument is that macro examinations may be useful to understand but at the end of the day it is down to the individual and how do we make it possible for each individual to overcome or use to best advantage their legacy, their history, their heritage, their genetics and character? Education is where I would start, and other practical suggestions would advance this discussion, rather than seeking to blame and avoid our joint responsibility to find solutions.

  8. I don’t believe that people or races can be inherently violent.

    Once read in one history book that the coastal nations, which today they are conveniently called Zulus and Xhosas, were established polities when they came into contact with white men in the 1400s and before that. It is no coincidence that Voortrekkers and the British Empire struggled to conquer them. But they finally won the battle through the battle of the gun. History also shows that these nations never lost hope for their independence from white rule and subjugation. Another historian pointed that energies of men or ‘warriors’ in Zululand, for example, were directed towards fighting wars with neighbors and Europeans. This reached the highest peak in the 1800s with the discovery of diamonds and gold, when whites became brutal in destroying black tribes and forcing blacks to work as cheap labor in mines. Apartheid was simply a continuance of these policies.

    I think the violence we see is a continuation of a trend: S Africans are too violent. We’re amazingly in a war with ourselves, bearing little resemblance of a country that went through the highly revered reconciliation phase. We’ve stayed in other countries in the continent but it is very difficult for one to claim to have seen such high levels of violence and conflict.

    Between 2007 and 2009, I frequented perhaps what many consider one of the unsafest places on earth – the DRC. Despite high poverty levels in Kinshasa I found the city to be very safe compared to many places in SA. The same goes for Mexico. I do not deny that some parts of these countries are at ‘war’ (or have high levels of conflict). But one thing is certain, respect for fellow humans is higher than in SA.

    The South African white community (even maybe after the American southern states), for example, is said to be the largest private army in the world, referring to the number of weapons per capita. One of the most cited reasons for this is high crime. But at the core of this, is what is called ‘swart gevaar’ (fear of blacks in general). Strangely, poor black communities face unprecedented violence, alcoholism and substance abuse. This has been the case in all their history of existence.

    Some have argued that as a community we should have gone through ‘a state of war’ to eradicate of the repressive system of apartheid. Mozambique is a poor but very safe after a war that killed thousands. Not that I agree with this thesis, but notions of reconciliation and ‘rainbow nation’ could be interpreted as suppression of the real mental state of a community. It is clear that leaders tried to avoid war and this was necessary. But we had to overcome apartheid in one way of the other.

    In brief, oppressive systems helped create a society that uses violence as a means of survival. Our predisposition to violence was instrumental in fighting apartheid and was key for migrant men to survive in urban black settlements that were marred by lawlessness and anarchy. Social conditions have created monsters that are now not so easy to tame. (I don’t think that white South Africans are any better: they are also as violent as their black counterparts, although less documented.) Road rage is one fine example that shows the tendencies of South Africans of “resorting to what they know best [violence]… at the littlest provocation. Blacks in the US, Latin America and South Africa are equally violent. Slavery.

  9. I left 34 years ago and visit every Christmas. From a slight distance: the past has been papered over with a superficial celebrity culture and money is worshipped in the media. Media diet is mostly junk. The values that have hegemony are not healthy ones. Most people, the poorest, are not heard/ listened to and not online either. In such an abundant country no one should be hungry. Biggest mistake seems to be the grossly unequal education system and a syllabus that seems irrelevant (from what I have seen, i.e. Great Gatsby as only set text rather than any South African or African literature – not advocating only local literature but it is important) Equality might begin in the classroom. It simply can’t go on in this way nor should it. All that I’ve said applies to the UK as well but obviously not as much though it too is becoming more and more unequal.

  10. Certainly there should be no question about whether or not it is still appropriate for South Africans to talk about the trauma of the apartheid era. Every individual must make their own choice as to when/if they want to/should/can “move on” as it were.
    My concern is with how this fixation on the apartheid era can lead to analytic tunnel-vision. Such one-note narratives really destroy our ability to understand events wholistically. Thankfully apartheid did not destroy all. But by focusing (too much?) on it you ironically give it more power, beyond the grave as it were. Surely the causes of the horrible rape that sparked this post do not all lay at apartheid’s feet. The point is not that apartheid played no role, but that other factors contributed which you do not mention. Again there is nothing wrong with talking about apartheid, but when every new sad tragedy from the Marakana massacre to this rape is simply laid at apartheid’s feet other perhaps equally important stories are left untold. We need more complex understandings of these events. Now certainly your core argument is that not enough focus has been put on understanding the continuing negative impact of Apartheid, but I’m not sure you empirically back that up. My anecdotal experience while in South Africa was that discussions about the apartheid era were pervasive and anything but taboo. But perhaps these discussions, which I am sure you hear as well, are not what you would like to hear. What, in your mind, would a healthy national dialogue about apartheid look like?

  11. The general rule is that the more unequal a society is, the more violent the crimes there would be. SA is a very unequal society. Add to this the as yet unquantifiable effects of internal displacement within SA under apartheid (vestiges of which remains) and finally a near total ignorance of seminal works by South African writers. Andre Brink wrote a chain of voices. Nadine Gordimer wrote The House Gun. It doesn’t take a professor to see that SA’s relationship with violence is in a class sui generis. That is so happens that her 1998 book will feature Oscar Pistorious in 2013 should get thinking Africans worried. Access, the perception of social well-being and stronger control of immigration needs to be done like yesterday. As a Nigerian I am appalled at the rate at which known criminals in Nigeria find refuge in SA. It has to stop.

  12. I don’t know what to say. True every word of it. I was there. 79358784 kanonier A.S Barnard. I saw it all. Witnessed it all. It all happened. It all continues to happen. go back to find the keys of the future or forget about a future. All written, recorded in exact detail from my experience in PW’s Army of 1981/82 and subsequent camps. At your service.

  13. The fact that everytime the issue of history is mentioned and South Africa’s Linos(Liberals in Name Only), work themselves into some inane froth proves that new South Africa is a sham predicated on a tissue of lies. Everytime one questions the status quo on the basis of our historical context you are dismissed as a reactionary or nihilist, in the worst case scenario.

    Those who have lapped up Mandela’s “Forgive and Forget nostrum”, want us to believe that everything is hunky-dory and we can all sing Kumbaya. The truth is the very same liberals know that the Rainbow Nation is too good to be true, hence, the insistence that we do not talk about our bad history and its psyhocosomatic impact on us as a people. They lose sight of the fact that we are all a product of our past and not our present. Moving right along. Just by way of question, why is it that all these races from the Jews, English and many others are allowed to talk about their experiences but not us? Why do white liberals trivialise our experiences like this everytime we tell them how the humanity of some of people was affected by the brutal system. The reaction of some right-thinking Liberals here to Palesa’s piece is so typical of South African Lino’s who just want us to pretend that everything is fine and perfect. If White people see nothing wrong with the New South Africa may be they just need to shut up and allow us to mop up their mess while they enjoy their historical priviledges.

    ny kind.

  14. Some of the things said here will leave your mouth agape for sometime! What’s clear is what Palesa expressed, most people who have been affected by apartheid and still are understand exactly what she means. Those like Michael Smith who want to shut us up by telling us to “move on” cos apartheid has been “adequately and exhaustively explored” by cultural practitioners or (activists) my emphasis, should move aside or on themselves, as they have heard enough and do not need to understand what the majority of the people in this country are going through. So the majority should be healed through apartheid museums, Constitution Hill and renaming of streets? Then you have the likes of Justin who continues to say people have a “fixation” with the apartheid era whilst he is condescendingly telling the masses they have a right to vent out or move on when they are ready to.

    You want to know what a healthy dialogue about apartheid would look like? It will be when you stop being academic and intellectual about apartheid, rape, abuse and Marikana. It will be when you can listen to all the hurt, indignity and humiliation the masses which are not part of this dialogue are still going through. When you can go to where most people live to have a dialogue with them to understand their circumstances. When you listen to the gogos who had to look after their children’s children and still juggle looking after white kids whilst no one took care of theirs. When you listen to women’s hurt who spent time in jails, camps and mine towns and had to beg for sanitary towels, soaps and bare necessities from men who were just helping themselves to these women anytime it suited them. When you listen to Prudence’s grandfather and men of his generation who were stripped of all their manhood and the right to protect their families.
    Yes, we are an agressive violent nation of all colour and race, but the more we sit in lofty towers, howling and blaming each other, telling us when we cant cry or talk and say what happened to us through apartheid, there is nothing we are going to achieve. The great chasm created by the haves and have-nots will divide us even more. Do we really care to understand what those who can not be having these kind of discussions with us at this moment are thinking? Stop pointing fingers, stop, stop, stop and take your high self to some township, settlement or rural area and ask what you can do there!!
    Nakedi Ribane.

    1. How is it condescending to tell people they should decide for themselves how to deal with the apartheid era? Condescending? Really? If that is, what isn’t?

    2. Ngiyabonga Nakedi … Tell it like it is … no sugar-coating. Those who glibly say that “Apartheid” was eradicated in 1994 and others who said the past was dealt with through the TRC – know nothing about our country – let alone Africa as a whole. The wounds, scars, tears continue to fester and will continue to do so for generations to come.

      Since the Freedom March in America -1968 do people honestly think that the ills of racist America were done away with by singing “We Shall OverCome” … as the “Uncle Tom’s and Aunt Jemima’s” of America – caught in their own ignorance of how racism is so deeply embedded within the materialistic – Capitalist society perpetuated on Capitol Hill – regardless of who becomes President. Barack Obama himself is an apologist for America’s decades of systematic racism and Anti-Islam sentiments. They say: “The mind is a terrible thing to waste” – but without a mind … a conscience those words mean nothing at all … nada, zilch … luthu!

      Political Power without transcending the masses to any realm of empowerment is folly … an absolute joke. Just see how the US of A exported “Democracy” to Afghanistan and Iraq – what with 600,000 plus dead in the former and 1.4 million in the latter … and this in the name of Christianity” … “In God We Trust” … suka!!!


  15. Learn from the past by all means, and acknowledge that we can’t change what has already happened. We can however make the future a lot brighter by applying our energy and efforts to it as aposed to whining about and blaming everything on what was … Enough said!

  16. There are many people who were forcibly removed from their homes who have to now watch where they were removed from become prime property in the land boom. Would that not make you angry? The effects of apartheid won’t be exhorcised in a generation or two, or ever, but an equal society has to begin to be built now and it isn’t happening. No use waiting for government. It has to be grassroots up. There are many good people wanting to do that – across the board – who want to live in a just society more at peace with itself. The past can’t be undone but must be worked through for the sake of future generations and also because past suffering must be addressed however uncomfortable. It isn’t only down to individual choice either. We are all interdependent and part of more than just ourselves. Rather than tunnel vision, apartheid is often the elephant in the room. I agree that things also need to be seen in regional and global contexts. There need to be channels on many levels for people to express their life experiences and to listen/ be listened to.

  17. The first thing that irks me – get’s me downright annoyed is the brutality with which so much SA’s violence is perpetrated. Secondly – it is the degree with which this violence is wrought upon over womenfolk – young and old. Even the mangy cur’s in more rural areas are treated better.

    With these barbarous acts of violence – a woman’s dignity and self-worth is rudely snatched away from them – especially should somer cases go to court – where it is invariably the victim who is subjected to even more trauma by an unfeeling – unsympathetic magistrate and equally salacious sensational press – who over the past 20 years have lost their amasende.

    Dammit all – why does everyone try and excuse away the evils of 350± years of racist brutality and exploitation – rape and plunder of millions upon millions of people in Southern Africa … or the 60 million or so people throughout Africa who have met their demise under one or other colonial power. Now, some 55 years since most of these countries were supposedly liberated – or freed from their shackles – do we see the same ignoble acts of genocide unleashed upon the “newly freed” peoples of Africa.

    Whether it be the World Bank/IMF/IFC – WHO US of A or any magnanimous country delivering their altruism with devious intentions – to force the undeveloped countries and people into debtor nations – whilst their corrupt leaders embezzle the states coffers. And … these altruistic countries and organisations are complicit – in-that they know that this is in fact what is happening. One of their supercilious arguments is that as long as a country opposes Communism – their leader will continue to be paid off – while the countries and helpless people suffer and suffer and suffer.

    Africa has been toyed with far too long; their lands usurped from them, their natural resources stolen right under their noses and their dignity severely destroyed by “well-meaning” evil-mongers … (aforementioned) NGO’s and Religion.

    With the psyche so devastated for close to 400 years – how else does the world expect Africa to heal – to forgive and forget and simply move on? After all, South Africa’s TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission was an absolute joke (albeit a sick one at that) for the victims had their trauma exacerbated by the phony admissions of guilt by the perpetrators who laughed all the way to their smug communities.

    And people want to know why Africa is so volatile and angry – often given to barbaric acts of violence … or is it simply retaliation?

    Until anyone has seen – been exposed to the evil which man hath bestowed upon the poor, homeless and suffering of the world … you know nothing about the reality of human suffering … man’s inhumanity to man …

  18. What amazes me is the plethora of visceral responses to comments made here by people perceived as “white” (based on their names?) And not only do these seem to be knee jerk reactions, some then go on to ascribe or infer all manner of unfavourable characteristics or perspectives or ideologies to the “white” commentators, without basis, becoming rather personal, which clouds the issues. Is this not racist? Or, to be fair, am I now being racist by assuming those with non-European looking/sounding names are not “white” (which does not make them “black” necessarily, as they may be mixed race – or must we subscribe to the one-drop principle which is inherently racist anyway)? And often the responses indicate the writer has misinterpreted or clearly not properly read and understood the supposedly “white” comment. The point is that such visceral reactions are not going to advance the dialogue – can those commentators who believe perceived “white” liberalism is the root of all evil possibly seek to persuade the “white liberals” with arguments on the issues, by explaining how examining apartheid’s role in South Africa’s current violence will give answers and yield solutions that will reduce if not eradicate the sort of heinous crime perpetrated on Anene Booysen and countless others daily? And how can we possibly engage as equals if some of us are to be bludgeoned into silence or dismissed as aggressors and irrelevant merely because we have a different perspective or experience or belief – it is reminisent of any critic of Israel being branded anti-semitic because the world must forever atone for the Holocaust. To me, and this is only my perspective, this means Israel is forever denied the opportunity to engage as a nation of equal, responsible human beings, and is forever cast as a nation of victims always subject to continuing threats and therefore denied human dignity, that most basic of human rights from which all others flow. And if we “deny” one side dignity, how can the other “side” ever have human dignity? As a person once said to me, equality is not conferred – it is asserted, it is your right, not a gift. The same can be said for all human rights. Do we want a dialogue, a conversation, as equals with human dignity, or merely an exchange of homilies leading nowhere?

  19. To be quite frank, the people who ataccked and killed Anine were under the influence of Tik.Really people how can colonialism be held responsible for putting dope into someone’s mouth?Get real!

    1. Far too often do we hear of people under the influence of “mind altering” TIC or methamphetimene and other garage manufactured drugs – using that very addiction as a mitigating circumstance. The same applies to alcohol or as in Oscar Pistorius’s case … steroids.

      Apparently – being of non compos mentis mind is seen as excusing many of these violent crimes … including rape.

      It should not be forgotten – or overlooked that the whole US drug trade of the 1960’s was a covert operation initiated by the FBI and CIA – to be pumped into low-income housing projects to try and stem the spread of the revolutionary Black Panther movement.

      I’m not saying that the same applies to South Africa – but it does bear scrutiny.

      To equate Marijuana with any of these hard core drugs is totally disingenuous to say the least. But … to combine marijuana use together with alcohol or TIC or any other concoction – diminishes the medicinal effectiveness of marijuana – as is often the case with taking two prescription drugs for different reasons that counteract each other and can make one more ill or go into cardiac arrest.

  20. Hello there! This really is my 1st comment correct here so I just required to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics? Thank you a lot!

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©Africa is a Country, 2016