By Mbe Mbhele
The freedom charter ushered in the idea of the rainbow nation. I don’t care what you say if you believe in the freedom charter you are by default in support of the idea of the rainbow nation. The freedom charter suggests that it is possible for blacks and whites to coexist in harmony without resolving the conditions that caused the antagonism between them which is land dispossession and the massive exploitation of black South Africa. The freedom charter which gives birth to the illusion of the rainbow nation coerces blacks into some amnesia and an unremembering of the past that shaped the current South Africa where black people are mired in fatal conditions. The freedom charter is deliberately ahistorical in order to impugn whites from any liability. The freedom charter further facilitates the creation of programs like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which have the sole duty of exonerating whites from the crime gratuitously slaughtering blacks and to free them from any guilt of their murder.
The freedom charter and the concept of the rainbow nation are invested in appealing to white sensibilities even though whites have been sending clear gestures that they have no intention of accepting black people as equal subjects in their country of birth. Although South Africa has clear borders enclosing its various communities it has failed to develop a national identity or national character. This is mainly because whites have been refusing to be associated with black South Africa. The concept of separate development which was the cornerstone of the apartheid policy is still the cornerstone of ‘post’-apartheid South Africa. This was demonstrated when white people explicitly opposed the removal of certain statues that represented proponents of a system that oppressed black people on the basis of their race. White South Africa argued that the statues are part of their culture and heritage. When student movements that were against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of teaching and learning emerged white South Africa opposed them claiming that the language carries their culture. This is ironical because black people were forced to accept English which is also a colonial language and is not part of their culture. Whites still have ‘whites only’ communities like Orania. It has been a considerable number of years after 1994 but townships are still ‘blacks only’ areas. Public hospitals and taxi ranks are still used by black people only. White people have been unwilling to assimilate in spaces that have black people whereas blacks have been left with little option but to force themselves into white South Africa. Where black people try to incorporate themselves into white spaces they are met with extreme rejection through the use of the law and other devices. Previously ‘whites only’ spaces still remain largely white and exclusive just without the signs that read ‘no blacks allowed’. It is not difficult to figure out why whites have refused to create a unified nation with a single national consciousness. It is because whites want to sustain their privilege and this is only possible if the condition of blacks remains the same.
In conclusion, black people are no different from dogs if not worse. Through the acceptance of the freedom charter they accept their non-human status but still beg and desire to at least have a kennel so that they hide their heads when it rains. The freedom charter and the rainbow nation are a white flag, a concession of defeat and a plea to at least be kept alive. The freedom charter is an affirmation that the people shall continue to govern and blacks will be obedient.