Each Generation is stuck in a past that was not of their making. This concept that some people have that black people are simply complacent and lazy and blaming everything on apartheid – or that thing whose name we shall not say – is a not only maddening, but illustrates just how people were duped into believing the TRC lie. This rainbow nation needs to be torn down and reconstructed in such a way that everyone is afforded the same freedoms and access.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was brought about as a peaceful platform for transition, from a single party state, which was built on the ideals of segregation and affluence of a single race over another. The TRC was simply a convenient tranquilizer administered to the entire country, making people accept the idea that any form of repentance would somehow patch up the man-made chasms that existed, and bring about a euphoric sense of calm.
And it did, until the cracks began to show. That entire process only delayed the inevitable. What we are witnessing now, all the protests that are increasing in numbers, are people of colour finally saying – “Enough is enough”. We were hoodwinked into a false sense of freedom that could not, and would not last forever. The inequalities of the past where not re-written enough to ensure that everyone benefitted from this new found freedom. Isende lendlela! (we still have far to go!)
On the other hand Rome was not built in a day.
Year in Year out we have seen an increase in public protests, and at the core of this is a simple message; “we need better than this”.
The townships were created as a way to house and segregate people of colour. So how, is it that 21 years into a democracy, people of colour are still stuck in townships with limited options to prosper? Where are the jobs, why is unemployment high? In the same breath we should remember that this economy was built on the capitalist ideology of the minority governing the majority; a rewriting, a reconstruction, a renovation of the old systems which have been inherited needs to occur. This concept is akin to taking your old baggage from a previous tumultuous and abusive relationship and trying to build a new relationship from the foundation of those ruins; it simply will not work.
I usually don’t talk race because most people feel an excuse is being made. Hell, if I could take a picture or draw you a Pictionary of what I meant, that would much easier. But only a life experience could get someone to a point of understanding, and of course an open mind. The unending cycle of poverty that is still inherent in previously disadvantaged communities is startling and angering. Due to the structures of old, it meant that education was not inherently part of the life cycle, it was not necessarily engraved in your psyche as the only way forward. We should also remember that for many, the only way to survive was to enter into laborious work.
Being black is not just a skin colour, it’s a condition. It means carrying with you all the hopes and dreams of those that came before you, ensuring that their sacrifices to better your life were not in vein. You are holding an entire family tree’s hopes and dreams in your being.
As recent as 1980 there were still very few career options available to black people, you could be a nurse, a social worker; a labourer, an educator. There were very few who broke the mould, lawyers, doctors and the like.
According to the Stats SA report published in 2014, in 1994, out of a total workforce of 8,9 million, 21% of the South African workforce was skilled (managers, professionals); 47% was semi-skilled (clerks; machine operators, sales and services) and 21% were low-skilled (domestic workers).
The skilled workforce; managers and professionals i.e. doctors, lawyers, captains of industry and the like is as follows; in 1994 only 15% of the black; 42% of the white; 12% of the coloured and 25% of the Indian workforce was skilled.
In comparison the low-skilled work force back in 1994 was represented as follows; 43% of the Black; 3% of the White; 35% of the Coloured and 7% of the Indian you will remember that these are the labourers, domestic workers, classified in the Stats SA report as elementary workers.
Although there have been gains across all racial groups within the skilled workforce, however there has been uneven distribution of progress within population groups. Looking at the statistics the reason for the disproportion is apparent – the segregation of access and resources lead to the formation of a workforce that was and still is disproportionate.
How can we explain why the racially majority are still stuck in elementary, low-skilled jobs; whilst the minority are still thriving in professional and skilled jobs? Access. Access to education; and access to resources; and the right to thrive.
According to the report there has only been a 3% increase in the skilled Black workforce in the 10 years since 1994, and in contrast there has been a 19% increase in the White skilled workforce, and 11% and 26% in the Coloured and Indian skilled workforce, respectively, in the same timeframe.
In my previously article, Wits Fees Must Fall a revolutionary cry, I recounted how oppression has bred a cycle of poverty. Without access to education I don’t know where I would be. It is clearer than ever, that we are not yet free from the shackles of inequality. If a person cannot afford to be educated how then can they break the cycle of poverty? How do we move this country forward? We need to open our eyes to these vast inequalities and stop the labelling and finger pointing.