by Andiswa Flatela.
date: 14 April 2016
I am attracted to #BuyBlack campaign advocated by the National Black Solidarity Consumer Boycott (NBSCB) for various reasons, one of which is the ability to use statistics to creatively unlock black people’s imagination to see new possibilities.
When Pastor Xola Skosana of the Way of Life Kilombo first shared this vision of ‘sustained withdrawal of black money from white hands’, my mind excitedly latched on the possibility of practically creating a new world for black people – a world that is free from cancerous anti-black capitalistic whiteness, a world where black people will finally breathe and be human.
According to Stats SA official figures, of the approximately 55 million South Africans almost 80% of them are black. Steve Biko in Black Consciousness expands our definition of ‘black’ to encompass those that Stats SA labels as Coloured (8,9%) and Indian (2,5%). So take this, over 91% of the people in this country are black – that is over 50 million people! But, a very big but, almost 80% of the country’s wealth and land is in white hands.
Why in the world are we letting this continued injustice to happen to us black people in a country ruled by a black democratic government? For me this is a nagging urgent question demanding practical answers. I do not by any means belittle the effect of capitalism-imperialism-colonialism manifested in SA as apartheid, neo-apartheid and neoliberalism. Given all the historical and present day systemic and structural exclusion of black people from humanity, we owe it to ourselves to answer this question honestly and scientifically so as to find lasting solutions.
No amount of rhetoric, sentimentality, anger, passion, hoping and wishing will dismantle the system that continues to condemn us to subhuman existence.
What is to be done?
The #BuyBlack campaign seeks to find practical solutions out of the belly of the beast. In the words of Pastor Skosana, “(t)he campaign is an effort to let black people speak with one voice against white power and the persistent preservation of white privilege 21 years after the dawn of the so called South African democracy. The campaign seeks to connect the ‘live wires’ of disgust and dissatisfaction expressed in different sectors of South African society by Black people and remind us that the black struggle is not “issue” based, but a quest for total liberation from white domination”.
However, the people in the NBSCB are not totally naive into believing that exchanging white for black capitalists will solve the problem. We are seeking ways to ‘dismantle’ the whole anti-black capitalistic system, not reform it. In this regard we are working into the campaign a number of practical things so as to experiment with alternate ways of living and being resulting in decolonised society devoid of any trace of dehuminisation.
We acknowledge that Blacks are not homogeneous. Gender, sexuality, class, ability, age, tribes, religious beliefs etcetera are but many contradictions within the black community. That said, in the current world order all blacks are assigned a subhuman status regardless of their many contradictions. Therefore, all blacks are subjected to some form of black pain by virtue of being black because the world system is united on this one stance of being anti black.
We acknowledge further that racism is a useful tool giving capitalism a psychological, spiritual, philosophical and practical justification for imperialism. To this end its easy to exploit, oppress, dominate, enslave and kill a person whom you believe is not fully human because it imputes no responsibility to the exploiter.
In this context the big question is, how do we navigate the tulmatous waters of contradictions whilst we remain focused on the total collapse of the system? Steve Biko writes in his book, I Write What I Like, “(w)e are oppressed because we are black. We must use that very concept to unite ourselves and to respond as a cohesive group. We must cling to each other with tenacity that will shock the perpetrators of evil”
Practical steps that we can all undertake to support and lead this boycott:
- a) Shift the money to black hands and hurt whiteness. Buy black. Source it from a black provider or black producer. Promote black artists. Patronize black businesses.
- b) Establish a Central Black Fund for the advancement and liberation of all black people. This will deal with 3 aspects, namely: disaster and relief; development, and; advocacy.
- c) Convince black businesses to financially support the black cause by contributing 1% of their profit to the Black Fund.
- d) The black ‘middle and upper class’ to be convinced to donate at least 1% of their income to the Black Fund.
- e) Experiment with, fund and encourage the concept of “community shared wealth”. Emerging black businesses set up and practice in the form of cooperatives and/or be community owned so as to give power back to the people who create the wealth.
- e) Establish and set up self-reliance projects – from food production to building houses to producing clothes etcetera.
- f) Be focused on the ultimate objective of building institutions of power including in the areas of the economy, media, agriculture, law, science and education.
- g) Establish liberated zones where whiteness is minimised or controlled as much as possible. Black zones and black economic hubs where the alternative lifestyle will be lived out must be created.
- h) Challenge all black people to consider some form of ‘class/power/privilege’ suicide. Adopt the Sankarist kind of living. This may mean staying in, for example, Soweto even if you can afford a house in Bryanston. Use the privilege, authority, ability or money that you individually have to make Soweto, or any other identified place, a better, safer, culturally vibrant, cooler place to live in. It may mean some other forms of privilege suicide if living in a township is too drastic for you.
- I) Fund full time activists, revolutionaries, theoreticians, spiritual guides etcetera to dedicate themselves to the task of liberation. Our liberation is urgent and we need people who will do this work 24/7. We need to fund our own emancipation by using the collective strength of our numbers.
Ultimately, we need to find a decolonised better way of being, living and economising.
It’s been reported that the great Guinea Bissau revolutionary, Amicar Cabral, argued that “(t)here are only two possible paths for an independent nation: to return to imperialist domination (neo-colonialism, capitalism, state capitalism), or to take the way of socialism.” I say we need to interrogate, experiment and discover what it means to be human outside whiteness – if this is found in socialism, so be it!
NBSCB is in the process of:
– Creating a Buy Black directory website
– Creating stickers for identification of businesses and products that are endorsing the campaign.
– Sourcing people to develop an app nationwide for black owned business.
– Working at a possibility of hosting a market for all black owned small businesses by the end of
– Inviting ideas, volunteers and any form of contribution towards the success of this campaign.
If not us, then who? If not now, then when? You too can contribute towards your own liberation – simply #Buy Black.
The NBSCB is endorsed by Black First Land First (BLF), Fees Must Fall, End Outsourcing, Free APLA Prisoners Campaign, uJamaa, Food Sovereignty Campaign. It is a bimonthly campaign until it gains enough momentum to be sustained indefinitely.
Andiswa Flatela is part of the NBSCB Steering Committee representing the #FreeAPLApoliticalPrisoners Campaign.