CAN WE TALK ABOUT KYR­I­ARCHY?

CityPress - - Voices -

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?

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