My Twitter account has, for most of the year, lain neglected like a pair of once hip shoes that now hurt my soles just by looking at them. This was until I watched a series of political theories unfold into stunning practice and ideas that live in books take shape as events on my thirsty twitter timeline, daringly delivered by the hashtag #FeesMustFall. In the wake of the national student uprisings, I have tweeted more than I have in 2015, getting re-tweets and favours from hundreds of strangers, especially after one particular tweet: ‘’If the ANC government does to you what the apartheid government did to you then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government’’ Nelson Mandela. I tweeted the quote along with the hashtag #ANCMustFall and #ZumaMustFall after last week’s vicious parliament encounter in which the president and higher education minister Blade Nzimande did nothing but send violent police to address protesters who were outside what is essentially their sitting room. I was angry and emotional when I sent the tweet but mortified hours later when I saw how many DA devoted white people had retweeted it, in addition to replies that the DA is a better alternative. I felt ashamed that I had publicly sjamboked black people to (the wrong) white people, something I don’t like to do precisely because of this habit’s invitation of a DA aligned white person’s liberal nywe nywe into the conversation, a psychosis to which my door is perpetually closed.
But to dismiss my reaction to the ANC because of this would be counter revolutionary. In the same way that social media has revealed people’s true colours on matters of class and race, the student uprising has revealed the true colours of the ANC when it comes to listening to, interacting with and fulfilling the needs of its proletariat. Like many black South Africans, I am offended that the ANC has turned out to be what an older black man who had called into a local talk radio show last week described as ‘’a hybrid of many destructive things, a party which has the DNA of the National Party running through its body’’. The photograph of the so called student leaders and university officials sitting with the President and ANC ministers in a lavish room at the Union Buildings last Friday, says a lot more about our ruling party, than the 0% the president later spoke about to the television that day. Ideologically, the ANC has never been a party that would ever know how to deal with an uprising in which the rebels want more than just a seat at the table of privilege. The ANC does not know what to do with rebels whose heroes have decoded the black condition as acutely as Assata Shakur, James Baldwin, Frantz Fanon, Winnie Mandela, Steve Biko, Solomon Mahlangu and their own revolutionary peers have. We know this because ideologically, in 1994 the ANC saw no problem with moving its black leadership into the Union Buildings, a building that was built to symbolize English and Afrikaner union following The Anglo- Boer War. In this union, both groups agreed that the best plan for their enrichment was to officially take the one thing that made the natives of this land self sufficient – the land, in a plan that was made into the bill we now call The 1913 Land Act. What the then South African Native National Congress, which later become the ANC, did, was to send a delegation of 5 members to England to beg the Secretary of Colonies and The King of England, to make the white South African government give the natives some of their land back, a request that was ignored by imperialist Britain and a signal that would mark the ANC’s satisfaction with just one crumb of a cake that was always theirs.
That Nelson Mandela’s first international stop after his release in 1990 was to the same British crown that had dismissed his political ancestors 76 years prior, was no surprise, ideologically speaking. The ANC has always only concerned itself with liberating black people from the grips of unjust political power but it has never had its own ideas for how to truly liberate black people to a point where they don’t merely want a seat at the table of power, but they have the will and self-determination to redesign the table and the room in which it stands to suit the needs of their blackness, to truly empty their minds of colonial oppression. That the ideologically more perceptive EFF has, in the midst of our youth led awakening, marched to the real doors of power, the white monopoly capital that controls the economy of our country and continent, is no arbitrary coincidence. It is testament that this ubiquitous disruption has been growing with each passing year of the so called born free generation, as if our green democracy timed its own obsolescence to happen just after its 21st birthday.
The disruption is an instrument of change, an interruption of things and universities as we currently know them, a call to usher in, however unpalatable, the opposite of Africanization, which Frantz Fanon describes as an uncreative replacement of the colonial rulers by an untrustworthy postcolonial African middle class because this class has ‘’totally assimilated colonialist thought in its most corrupt form’’. This generation of revolutionaries may use the English of the colonial rulers, but they speak it with fearless inflections and thick, scrupulous accents and a language that spits in the face of the good native, to wake them up so that they may do what they did to the last brute who tried to tell them that their demands were unrealistic. And they will tweet it.
This column was first published in City Press on Sunday 1 November 2015.