Jul 22, 2010 - Issue 385
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Imitating One Another Imitating Master - Represent Our Resistance - By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD - BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board

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“Victory” in South Africa!
What was their strategy? The friendly approach. Instead of coming over there with their teeth gritted, they started smiling at the Africans. ‘We’re your friends.’ But in order to convince the African that he was their friend he had to start off pretending like they were our friend.
-El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X)

They said, watch out for Bafana Bafana, but the South Africa team played the one game and that was it. Watch out for Ghana! Ghana played one more game after its win against the U.S. It was okay! The World Cup is still in South Africa! Listen to the vuvuzela! In the meantime, Nigeria debated the future of its team. What happened to its team in the World Cup? The BBC asked every one it could about the low representation of African teams as if to suggest the African nations can come up to the standards of the soccer teams of Latin America and Europe. The World Cup is still in South Africa was the response of South African responders. The World Cup is still in South Africa!

A part of me was proud to see the World Cup come to South Africa. Mandela’s South Africa! Steve Biko’s South Africa! Dennis Brutus’ South Africa! I could imagine Miriam Makeba smiling on the country.

What is this victory? What does South Africa win for hosting the World Cup? I remember as a teenager apartheid South Africa at the same time I was studying Jim Crow United States. In 1990, Mandela is released after serving 27 years in Robben Island. Twenty-seven years imprisoned because he refused narrative that ordered social relations to favor white South Africans. Twenty-seven years Mandela served so that Black Africans could be free.

What is this victory South Africa celebrates now?

BBC radio, night after night, disseminated the voices of South Africa’s Black public official and middle class. Peppy, elated voices praised themselves and the victory they achieved by hosting the World Cup in Africa. The people of South Africa are proud of this accomplishment!

For days leading up to the opening of the World Cup, South African fans, government officials, and business representatives reminded BBC hosts that South African is part of the world! South Africa wants to present itself in the best light! South Africa can show the world it can do it!

Who does not know that the world to which the leaders of South Africa are referring consists of white citizens and corporate shakers in the U.S. and Europe. We are not subhuman because we consume too! We want the U.S. and Europe to recognition that we, too, have desires to compete as a world powerbroker!

I wanted to live in South Africa’s victory: the world cup on African soil. But how do you ignore the voices of the poor and working class, for years now, telling the world that very little has changed in their lives? Millions of Black South Africans still live in shacks and still have no access to water or electricity. In fact, South Africa, in its desire to show the world it “can do it” - yes, we can! - moved, displaced, pushed from view of the world the undesirable: the poor and the working classes. Moved them, the Black South African government did from shantytown to shantytown out of sight. Black women, market women, who have been market women since the beginning of time, became unsightly entities government officials did not want the world to recognize - and no, it was not McDonalds.

South Africa welcomed the corporations with open arms.

Similar to Black leaders in the U.S. who do not just drink the Kool Aid but who purchased stocks in it 45-50 years ago and, as a result, have become multi-millionaires by confessing to the U.S. that they can do it too - the Black middle in South Africa are the newest doers on behalf of capitalism. Applause from the BBC and the capitalist West! South Africans are quick learners!

And each year, in South Africa a massive class of people are partitioned deeper and deeper behind apartheid roads, schools, jobs, hospitals constituting a division between the have and have nots that is just as institutionalized as the racial apartheid town borders.

The 34 billion rand (4.6 billion) spent to host the World Cup in South Africa, will bring relief to the more than 40 million adults without employment!

Ten multi-million dollar stadiums replaced shantytowns. The people who lived in poverty when Mandela and the ANC came to power and who are still living in poverty watched from afar as foreigners from the West, admiring the ingenuity of South Africa, pay $200 to $500 or more to see their Bafana Bafana and other soccer teams play at 10 multi-million dollar stadiums where shantytowns once existed. So good of the government and FIFA to put aside $20 tickets for 120,000 poor folks sent to live in other shantytowns away from the World Cup venues. How would the poor arrive at these 10 stadiums, stay at these new hotels, or eat fancy or fast foods at new restaurants or at McDonalds?

But the future of South Africa begins now!

Unlike the Western visitor to South Africa, the majority of Blacks South Africans know that the World Cup will enrich the already rich South African, political officials, and their partners - corporate sponsors. But the BBC does not want to hear from them - and the people know this too. The government, the Black leadership guiding this capitalist venture to victory does not want to hear from them, steaming with anger in their new shantytowns.

South Africa will show the world it can do it - just like the West!

I hear myself saying sometimes, I do not know what has happened to us Blacks on this planet. I do not know why too many of us turn away from the values that sustained us through enslavement and colonialism. But, then, I do know. It is a difficult space to be in when witnessing the behavior of Blacks who, responding to the dehumanization and demoralization of our people, opt to lie to themselves and others. Thanks to the capitalist production of death, we live in a world that criminalizes any response other than collaboration.

The despots are not the only ones willing to be seen offering the shameful handshake to Masters of capitalism (the IMF, the World Bank, Wall Street, corporations, U.S. and Western governments) who have proven again and again that the only good Black anywhere on the planet is spiritless or just outright dead - and capitalism accomplishes both realities for Blacks globally. The handshake and the money passing from the lighter to the darker hand and the massacres of farmers that follow is as well crafted as the narrative featuring African corruption and cronyism.

For capitalists, even the so-called “democratic republics” accomplish the same goals.

To host a capitalist venture such as the World Cup after we have been educated through experience about the sheer brutality of capitalism and its history of destruction is to admit defeat, to confess that the unsightly are us, Black people rather than the system, the game - manipulated to serve the interests of the Masters. It is to say, in suits, grinning, okay - we have to play their game, but we intend to play it well and win! But this is not a game to Masters who play to the death. It is not a game that South Africans, Blacks, humanity - should even think playable, let alone winnable. The game is rigged.

To play is to forfeit your humanity, not prove your humanity.

That everywhere, not just in South Africa, the Black leadership and the middle class gives up its solidarity with the majority of humanity on the planet is part of the game - the power game. “Power,” the philosopher Michel Foucault, in Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, explained “is not the ‘privilege’, acquired or preserved, of the dominant class, but the overall effect of its strategic positions - an effect that is manifested and sometimes extended by the position of those who are dominated.” It is worth repeating - that this power is “manifested and sometimes extended by the position of those who are dominated.” Every time I see one of us parroting the lingo of the corporate world, conforming is necessary to get ahead, I have to ask - conforming to what? What is it in my cultural history that has to conform, and to what? I see in these personal victories the mechanism of that power Foucault defines - and a spiritless person embodying it.

Malcolm witnessed the African continent in the 50s and 60s become explosive with the fever of freedom. The colonial powers, he said, did not want to leave; they did not cease “wanting to exploit the Black man of his natural resources” (“Not Just an American Problem). With the spirit of independence burning in their hearts and minds, he said, the African “no longer would allow himself to be colonized, oppressed, and exploited.” The African was willing “to lay down his [or her] life and take the lives of those who tried to take his, which was a new spirit.”

Where is this spirit now?

But the colonial powers, as Malcolm observed, actually never left Africa. And Malcolm explains that when a basketball player from the opposing team is trapped, he does not want to throw the ball away. He has to pass it, and he passes it to someone in the clear. “[S]ince Belgium and France and Britain and these other colonial powers were trapped…exposed as colonial powers…they had to find someone who was still in the clear, and the only one in the clear as far as the Africans were concerned was the United States.” So the European powers “passed the ball to the United States” who “picked it up and ran like mad ever since.”

There is nothing natural about the shift toward favoring partnerships with corporations rather than building and maintaining solidarity with the poor and working class.

The friendly, cordial, appeasing foreign face of the U.S. corporate cabal with its shipload of goods and cash and charming Africans with its idea of freedom and democracy has positioned Africans as subservient people willing to forget and offering to become walking, portable confessionals, confessing to the crime of Blackness. What are the structural adjustment programs all about? What spirited people agreed to the capitalist narrative that poverty would be eliminated in 40 African countries when poverty still exist and is growing in the U.S.? Globally, the numbers of the world’s first peoples living in poverty is rising while Wall Street bankers and corporations are racketing up the highest profits ever. In the U.S., where the government facilitates corporate growth, the sovereignty of the nation belongs more and more to the bankers and corporations.

Has South Africa’s leadership existed under a rock since 1990?

Resistance to a power that is both anti-democratic and, in the end, destructive is certainly Black South Africa’s history, but, in desiring a partnership with that power, South Africa dare not say to the multi-national capitalists - you must rise to our standards, accept our qualifications for doing business in our land. You must contribute to sustaining our freedom, life. South Africa’s leadership could not do this - and eagerly, desperately desire to prove it could “do it” too - just like the old and new Masters. So forget that history and denounce that ultimatum.

Excellent, South Africa! Now conceal and control the unsightly criminals in your society.

Further stratification of South Africans along class lines is inevitable. That the poor recognize they have become poorer is a good sign but a dangerous predicament for the capitalists. Their corporate partners in the media highlight the criminal element in South Africa. Blacks are killing Blacks! During the day, words flow from the government claiming democracy and freedom while, at night, its police force tends to the criminal elements in the shantytowns.

It does not take long before the poor and displaced in South Africa begin to identify the foreigners not as those corporate suits from the U.S. and Europe or those Black leaders and Black middle class embodiment of the foreign and unsightly. No. For to “do it” capitalist style, is to live in this world of deception and chaos. It is to expect the unraveling of solidarity among the poor and working class. That the long suffering people of South Africa see other African immigrants as the foreigner, the unsightly, is an example of capitalism’s globally strategy to control the movement of power. Zimbabweans in search of employment in South Africa “are perceived to be taking jobs away from locals, since they will work for less money” (Comment Factory, July 12, 2010). Fifty crimes a day, the article reports, are committed against other Africans by South Africans. South Africa’s poorest communities are “approaching African immigrants with formal letters or verbal warnings: go home now - or face vigilante violence after the World Cup ends on July 11” (The Daily Beast).

Excellent, South Africa! Well done! You are doing it!

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has been a writer for over thirty years of commentary, resistance criticism and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist sensibility to the impact of cultural narrative violence and its antithesis, resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication to justice and equality, she has served as a coordinator of student and community resistance projects that encourage the Black Feminist idea of an equalitarian community and facilitator of student-teacher communities behind the walls of academia for the last twenty years. Dr. Daniels holds a PhD in Modern American Literatures, with a specialty in Cultural Theory (race, gender, class narratives) from Loyola University, Chicago. Click here to contact Dr. Daniels.

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