On the 24th of September, Ntsiki “African Queen” Mazwai, a poet and singer from Johannesburg, published an open letter to White South Africans in which she, in typical Mazwai-outspoken fashion, addresses a number of seemingly unrelated matters.
This is rather amusing, as it follows shortly on the letter addressed to young white South Africans by another person a week or so before. Amusing firstly, because Mazwai, who goes under the Twitter pseudonym Cherie eGrand, recently published an open letter to Jacob Zuma in which she took him apart for everything that is wrong in her opinion.
Apparently she decided in the meantime that whites are to blame for all the problems, and no longer Zuma.
Amusing, secondly, because this is typical of the African culture which we have come to know: That of imitation rather than innovation. One publishes an open letter, ten are to follow. Then 100 and pretty soon everyone demands their right to write an open letter and if they cannot write a sensible open letter, they blame apartheid and set fire to the post office.
It is becoming somewhat tedious answering all these open letters, because it is so yesterday’s news writing open letters. The last really effective open letter was the “Boetman is die bliksem in” letter which Chris Louw addressed to Willem de Klerk on 5 May 2000.
So kindly, Black South Africans, before everybody starts writing open letters – you are (again) 2 decades behind the rest of civilisation.
I quote the uncrowned African Queen’s letter below my own response to it.
This is my reply:
Mazwai starts off by saying that she is FORCED to have an uncomfortable open conversation with white South Africans. Forced by whom? In my understanding of communication (and I studied for my Degree in Communication, unlike “dr” Pallo Jordan for example) communication happens when you send a message to a receiver who decodes your message and formulates a response. In a conversation there must be at least two people.
My response to this letter of yours now makes it a conversation. Before this, it was a senseless example of misguided monologue and verbally vomiting nonsense. What is recognisable, however, is the typical use of “they would teach you better…” Who are they, ms Mazwai? I find it a strange habit of the African to always blame this unnamed “they” – “they told me I should…” – never a name, never an identity – but always someone else. Never the capacity to accept responsibility – always the fault of someone else. I don’t know this “they” because “they” exist only in your imagination brimming with hate and spite and frustration. Better to say: The devil made me do it – at least then we have a culprit. But “they”….?
Mazwai’s reference to “this land called Africa” is a revelation of geographical knowledge. Africa is a continent, ms Mazwai. If by chance your meant “South Africa” in saying : “You are not descendants of this land…” Neither are you. It is a historically given fact that the ancestors of Black South Africans arrived after a murderous rampage in Southern Africa not a full century before the arrival the first Europeans – in fact, even after the Portuguese first planted a padrao here. They originated from the jungles and lakes of Central Africa and they massacred and wiped the Khoi and the San off the land. Yes, my ancestors came from European – but they did not find black people here. 80% and more of this country was uninhabited because of the Mfecane – the Bushmen and the Khoisan were the only ones here.
She indicates that White South Africans are the descendants of Elizabeth, Hitler and Bismarck. Which Elizabeth would that be? Elizabeth I who died in 1603 and had no interest in Africa, or would it be Liz Taylor? Hitler had no descendants and my good friend, Desanka von Bismarck is the descendant of the Iron Chancellor who, co-incidentally, was German Chancellor from the 1860’s to the 1890’s – long, very long, after the arrival of Europeans on this continent. I really think you should purchase a history book before you reveal any more of your ignorance in public.
A further statement in the letter refers to “making people slaves”. Slavery was abolished at the Cape on 1 December 1834 – that is two years before the Great Trek. By that stage the only black South Africans who had any contact with whites were the Xhosa people of the Eastern Cape – it is a historical fact that no Xhosa was ever a slave – no Boer would have one on his farm back then! This is a straightforward, malicious, popular lie cooked up to create racial discord in this country. And you fell for it!
Mazwai then challenges white South Africans to “do right”. What else have we been doing for 2 decades now? Don’t you regard handing over political power as doing right? Don’t you regard Affirmative Action, Black Economic Empowerment, opening all facilities of education and justice and service delivery to black South Africans on equal, and in fact, on basis of advantage, as doing right?
“You did not build your own empires, we built them for you!” Which empires would that be, ms Mazwai? Did black South Africans build the Greek Empire, or the Roman? Was Alexander the Great a Zulu or a Xhosa? Did Napoleon grow up in a Zulu kraal? How many Sotho or Tswana people built the British Empire in India and Canada and Australia? And kindly indicate to me from when to when did the South African Empire exist?
I feel rather flattered by the fact that you would regard two Boer republics, and later a Union of the two with two former colonies “an Empire.” No, madam, you succeeded in building exactly nothing. When the Europeans came to Africa, there was no sign of any ancient civilisation. Apart from Egypt, which is Arabian, Africa is the only continent on this globe where the indigenous people could not manage to progress at all after the end of the Stone Age (2000BCE) until 1652. No progress, not even the ability to construct anything above on storey high, for 3000 years!
And then she says that “we”, meaning black South Africans, stood up for themselves to end apartheid. I grant that you resisted apartheid, ms Mazwai. But the end of Apartheid happened on 17 March 1992 when an all-White Referendum was held and where, with an 85,08% voter turn-out, white South Africa rejected apartheid with a majority “Yes” vote of 68,73%. That was the end of apartheid, not the popular myth of Black South Africans who created “democracy”. White South Africa gave you what you have today – and you managed to destroy most of it in 20 years time.
White liberals come under attack next in Mazwai’s letter. This is the only opinion in the entire letter in which I completely agree with Mazwai. Then again, who was ever bothered by the opinion of the liberals in this country? The old Liberal Party – Alan Paton, Margaret Balinger still calling England “Home” and being secretly ever so grateful for apartheid. The white liberal only ever had his own interest at heart. They mean as little to white South Africa as they do to black South Africa.
Mazwai is upset at white people being too “damn arrogant” to learn the language of Africa. For what purpose? We have to live in a society of trade and diplomacy with the rest of the world. We cannot exist in solitude, cut off from the world outside. When was the last time a meeting of the International Monetary Fund was conducted in Tswana? How much business on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is conducted in Khoi?
Not arrogance, just not bothering with things that doesn’t matter. Your reference to white people speaking in “stupid” English to black South Africans – now that is relevant. You see, it is a question of necessity. White people will stop doing that when black people stop pretending not to understand the language when it suits them – that annoying “andyazi” –habit. You realise that black people will have to stop pretending not to understand a question when white people start speaking the African languages. Now, are you ready to face that? I doubt.
You are dreadfully upset because white people disrespect “Your” heritage day. When has it become yours? Why can’t we celebrate our heritage as well? By the way, why have you taken away our Day of the Vow on 16 December and forced your ideas of reconciliation upon us? Oh yes, Bishop Tutu is the “protector” of Braai Day. I haven’t watched SABC News for a while, but last time I checked, the Arch was still a Black South African.
Miss Mazwai, you straightforwardly threaten white South Africans with a Zimbabwe situation. You straightforwardly utter a threat that white people will be chased off their property. You refer to understanding and forgiveness, yet you utter a threat. You have no concept of what forgiveness is. None at all. And white South Africans are tired of trying to explain it to you, so get this straight:
Zimbabweans were caught off-guard, they had no laws to protect property. We do. They could find a safe place in South Africa. We have nowhere else to go. So we will not be caught off-guard. We will defend, because we will be driven to defend ourselves for the sake of survival. You might attempt to recreate a Zimbabwe situation here, but you must be prepared for the possibility of a totally different outcome.
You use the example of how someone comes into your house, breaking the house rules and you ask them to leave. You use this to say that white people came into your African house and must now leave. Let me give you a much more relevant example: My great-great grandfather purchased a plot of barren land from yours.
He built a house on it. My grandfather after him built a dam, and started cultivating the land. My father then created an infrastructure, created employment and economic sustainability on this plot of land which was left barren by your ancestor. And now that it is all developed and beautiful, now you show up at the front door and say: I don’t recognise the transaction between our two great-grandfathers – get off the land, I’m taking it back with everything on it that your grandfather, your father and you created on it. Miss Mazwai – dream on, because in this world, that doesn’t happen. Never has, never will.
The very paragraph in which you threaten white South Africans you end with the words: “…we CHOSE to forgive you…don’t abuse our humility.” Forgiveness means: We leave it behind. We look to the future. We take hands and work together. As long as people like you interpret forgiveness the way you do, combine it with hateful expressions and threats, we cannot move on.
As long as you keep blaming apartheid for all your lack of motivation, for all your own unwillingness to take your destiny in your own hand, for all your incompetence…for that long we will be stuck in this situation. And for that long your “forgiveness” will be of absolutely no consequence to white South Africa, because we can do nothing with such a forgiveness.
You say: “24 September is the ONE day where we can be proudly black.” Why? Why cannot you be proudly black EVERY day? You have the majority in government, you have access to everything this country can offer. Why do you prefer to regard being black as equal to being inferior?
I am proudly white. I demand of you to be proudly black. If you allow a majority of 40 million people to have their pride taken away by a minority, you have a problem – your problem is self victimisation. You do not value yourself. And that is something which white South Africa cannot rectify – you need to address it yourself. Take my advise: Start with yourself.
You claim that Heritage Day is to celebrate the military genius of King Shaka Zulu. You are so welcome to do that. Democracy gives us the right to associate and interpret and form opinions for ourselves. In my opinion Shaka Zulu was a bloodthirsty, murderous tyrant who had thousands of female cattle slaughtered and had pregnant women cut open to mourn the passing of his mother. By all means, celebrate that if you wish. But I shall celebrate the military genius of a Koos de la Rey and a Krisjan de Wet and a Jopie Fourie who valiantly fought for freedom against oppression. At least have the courtesy to grant me that privilege. And if I prefer to do so by having a barbeque with friends of my own circle of people to talk about our culture and history – it is none of your concern.
And then you end your letter by saying: “…when in AFRIKA (not spelled correctly by the way)..you do as the AFRIKANS.”
No my dear, misguided girl. If Africa wants to be a part of the world, wants to recognised as a valued partner in global relations, Africa must do as the rest of civilisation does. When being part of the world, you do as civilised people does. Or you remain left behind for another 3000 years.
Daniël Lötter, you fellow South African, but not a rainbow-nation counterpart, because that creation exists only in your imagination.
29 September 2014.
THE ORIGINAL LETTER
Dear White South Africans
September 24, 2014 by
Owing to this concept of Braai Day, I am forced to have this honest and somewhat uncomfortable conversation with you. I had hoped that since you have grown white people, they would teach you better…but they have not.
Let’s start at the beginning……my dear white people, you are not descendants of this land called Afrika. Afrika has its own children that it has birthed and nurtures. It is written in the history books (which your people wrote) that you came from Holland, France, Britain, Spain…..all these are European countries. The moral of the story is….You are descendants of Europe. You are the children of Elizabeth, Hitler, Bismarck and others that built their legacy on stealing lands and making people slaves. Indeed this is not necessarily a history one would be proud of, but it is what it is, and you are now in a position to ‘Do Right.’
There are certain behaviours which provoke the hell out of Africans…..most of these issues are centred around your SELF importance. What is it about you white people that makes you think that your thoughts, ideas and existence is more important than other races? This confuses me because you did not build your own empires, we built them for you. You did not raise you own children, we did that for you. You did not stand up when the injustices of Apartheid were happening, we stood up for ourselves.
The white liberals are now going to be up in arms, but in all honesty, white liberals did not have to carry Dompasses, they could go wherever they pleased and the very same white liberals benefitted from white privilege. So tell me, ‘How do you know someone’s struggle…..when you have never struggled?’ GFOH
You have been on this land for over 500 years and yet have been too damn arrogant to learn the language. In school, you make your children take subjects like French and German….How is French and German going to help you communicate with the majority black people of this land? My people can speak your European language and they don’t even live in Europe….you live in Afrika and you don’t know the language? With all due respect but that is Dumb as F*** When you white people speak to a group of black people why do you speak ‘stupid’ English? That thing where you talk down to black workers makes you look stupid.
I don’t know if its ignorance, arrogance or a desire to be asked to go back to your lands which makes you disrespect our Heritage Day by calling it Braai day…but I can promise you that this concept is extremely provocative and may I remind you that you are in the minority. This racist concept of yours where you want us to erase our heritage will quickly lead to a ‘Zimbabwe’ situation……yes you know that situation where white people got chased off the land? Yes….THAT situation. Even in your own homes, if a guest had to disrespect how you do things in YOUR own house…you would ask them to leave. My dear white South Africans, my generation is not the apartheid generation. We do not have a psychological fear of white people. We were born in a time where we CHOSE to forgive you…don’t abuse our humility.
Heritage day is a day where we celebrate the story of South Africa, the story of its people, cultures and traditions. It is a day where we celebrate African kings and queens who have ruled us and have given birth to our nations. It is a day where the African child hears their The other 365 days of the year we are heavily inundated in white culture……24 September is the ONE day where we can be proudly black. How dare you downgrade a day of African Pride to Beers and a braai……… NISIQHELA KAKUBI……. We get it though……we get why you would rather have a beer and a braai than celebrate the military genius that King Shaka Zulu was…. It’s just that…when in AFRIKA…you do as the AFRIKANS. Qha ke Kind Regards Your rainbow nations counterparts