When I was 17, I moved to Pretoria for undergrad. While Stellenbosch may be the belly of the racist beast in South Africa, Pretoria is the brain that keeps the beast moving with apartheid having been abolished. Growing up in Swaziland, barring the isolated incident, racism is a mythical creature too you. Moving to South Africa, it’s an albatross.
I don’t live in RSA anymore, but inspire of being on the other side of the world, i still keenly follow her politics given how much they influence Swaziland. 21 years since the first democratic election, to see white South Africans don the Apartheid flag during their #ZumaMustFall march was galling. First and foremost, the whole premise of the march was the height of privilege. They were marching not because of the socio-economic disparities in their country, but because Zuma’s dubious leadership led to the Rand collapsing. They believed that marching to deliver a petition on their day off would compel a sitting President to resign. Worth noting that despite all of the corruption that has happened under Zuma, the fiasco with the Ministers of Finance was bad governance, but not illegal. They failed to march after Marikana, they failed to march after Nkandlagate, they failed to march to end freaking APARTHEID! Now that their wealth is threatened sure arms are taken up. Moreover, the entire march was a gateway to racist rhetoric. The conjuring of Nelson Mandela’s ghost is an attempt to evoke the “clever black” propaganda that refuses to die. That “not like other black people” ideal that appeals to the internalised racism millions of People of Colour were raised to long for.
The Apartheid flag needs to be banned. It is a symbol of an inhumane regime and deserves the same treatment as a Swastika. The people flashing them, hanging them and even wearing them were saying they longed for a time black South Africans were subhuman in the eyes of the law. Wearing a symbol of oppression is not just offensive, it’s oppressionist. Anyone with that flag believes in a limited universe of possibility for black people. The flag is a tangible souvenir to so many atrocities committed by white people that were okay under law. That the flag hasn’t been banned isn’t a matter of free speech – it’s a matter of hate speech. The glee it was hoisted during the farce of a march says that an uncomfortably large amount of people still celebrate violence against black people.