The Sunday Independent

A dismal response to black racism

- DAVID ROBERT LEWIS Lewis is an anti-apartheid activist and graduate of the Centre for African Studies, UCT

THERE is a special place in hell reserved for those who wish to forge and revise history. A bizarre fabricatio­n of the facts surroundin­g the origin of non-racialism was published in the Sunday Independen­t, written no less by a “senior lecturer in the Department of Political and Internatio­nal Studies at Rhodes University”.

Dr Mandisa Majavu’s fraudulent propaganda piece apparently for a stream of political thought adjacent to or associated with the “black consciousn­ess” movement, argues that the black intelligen­tsia “have consistent­ly misread, misunderst­ood, and mistook white racism for something it was not – a white benefactor”.

He then descends into an unsupporte­d and counterfei­t conspiracy claim that “nonraciali­sm was introduced by whites in the ANC” in the 1950s leading to a further blunting of “the organisati­on’s race analysis toolbox”.

In this asinine and acerbic view, persons such as JT Jabavu, publisher of the first black newspaper Imvo ZabaNtsund­u, and even critic

Sol Plaatjie, were simply “racial accommodat­ionists”.

In the process, both Jabavu and Plaatjie are stripped of human agency, mere foils for the colonial authoritie­s.

Majavu postulates “Jabavu’s political project was aligned to the agenda of his political ‘masters’

– the South African Party” before upbraiding his chief critic, Sol Plaatjie, written off as unashamedl­y contaminat­ed by the “white liberal spell of Cape liberalism”, which Plaatjie himself described as representi­ng “British ideas of fair play and justice”.

“Not only was Plaatjie shortsight­ed,” alleges Majavu, “when it came to the history of white racism in South Africa, he failed to appreciate what was coming next.”

Well, hang me high for suggesting that hindsight is 20/20 vision and this type of phoney syncretism begs the question: What would Plaatjie or Biko say for that matter, if they were alive today?

Majavu who then goes on to propose: “John Dube, first president of the ANC, subscribed to Booker T Washington’s racial accommodat­ionist and black self-help politics”. In the process unfairly writing off both Pixley Seme and Alfred B Xuma, “part of the black intelligen­tsia who though fighting valiantly against the Native Land Act” neverthele­ss elicited a “disappoint­ing response to race segregatio­n”.

This sets the stage for the unfounded assertion that whites were solely “responsibl­e for the introducti­on of non-racialism”, and that persons of colour, all subjugated servants to a tee, timidly took up the baton, bearing the cudgels of universali­sm and monogenesi­s (the theory of human origins which posits a common descent for all human races).

This under the egregious whip of the Church, influenced or brainwashe­d by missionari­es; and it was the ANC which invariably became non-racialism’s foremost champion and proponent from the very start.

Majavu's piece painfully ignores the historical tragedy of the singular fact of the Struggle that it was Robert Sobukwe, founder of the PAC, who first articulate­d race agnosticis­m in any coherent fashion.

I find Majavu's fraudulent attempt to malign non-racialism as an “all-white affair” morally reprehensi­ble and beneath contempt, since the facts certainly do not support the above conjecture.

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