CAN WE TALK ABOUT KYRIARCHY?
capitalist system while I live in Johannesburg.
Or exist outside the achy-breaky patriarchy of a society that needs 16 days a year to remind itself that women are humans too.
And I’ve tried to imagine, but can’t, that white superiority complexes will be cured in my lifetime. This leaves me in a perpetually reactionary, intellectually stimulating, politically right but emotionally wrong state of mind.
When it comes to my day-to-day living, I don’t think I’m genuinely happier than the millions of people who are blissfully feeding the insatiable capitalist machine with their Christmas-present buying. I don’t know if I’m happier because I’ve made better choices than the people who choose to remain in oppressive partnerships because of social or family expectations. I’m happy to be morally and physically black, but I don’t think I’m infinitely happier than my white or Indian neighbour.
And I think this is because, in spite of whatever spiritual or mental work we do on our inner selves, we are all stuck in this kyriarchy – defined as “the set of connecting social systems built around domination, oppression and submission” – because of money.
I passed a neighbour in the corridor this week. When she asked how I was, my response was: “Dude, I’m really freaking out about money and what I’m actually going to do next year.”
With an almost telepathic gaze, she looked into my eyes and said: “Oh my God, I’m feeling you so hard right now. Me too.”
So I spent a few impossible hours contemplating the idea of an alternative world. If God had to drop out of the sky and visit all of us who are engaged in some form of struggle for liberation and ask us to paint a picture of the world we want, what would that world look like?
Because when I really think about it, I don’t think the biggest threat to my daily life and happiness is the “kyriarchy”. It is probably the absence of an alternative to this life, the lack of mental and spiritual ability to imagine what another functioning world would look like.
If the #FeesMustFall protests continue in 2016, is there going to be a national student wing that is concerned with drawing up the plans and implementation for a wholly alternative university or education system? If Our Perfect Wedding and Top Billing are conceptually colonised shows, what does a decolonised and entertaining show about weddings look like? If feminists are finding themselves at odds with their traditional and cultural beliefs, and politically conscious black men are relinquishing their Christian education, what is the alternative spiritual practice that can bind their modern politics with a new form of “woke” spiritual practice?
As a colleague said to me: “When I’m in Kinshasa, I can drive on Steve Biko Street, turn right into Julius Nyerere Avenue and have my coffee on Thomas Sankara Drive. But the city doesn’t really function efficiently, so what happens when you have brought down these oppressive structures?” I haven’t figured anything out, but my intention is now at least greater than just liberating myself from the mendacities of the “kyriarchy”. Eating at black restaurants and using products created by female entrepreneurs has not made me happy and will not change the world – these things don’t change the world; they merely change its appearance. In 2016, we have to think about channelling the pulsating rage of the youth and cracking the complicity of older people who are sitting in their corner offices, or driving in air-conditioned cars in manicured despair, into something more difficult than protesting, or quitting these jobs. We need to say: We don’t want this. What do we want instead?