Image: Lindsay Maasdorp at the BLF launch earlier this year. Photo: Zimasa Mpemnyama
By Lindsay Maasdorp
In 2015, during the much publicised march to parliament under the banner of #FeesMustFall (#FMF), I was one of those arrested and accused of High Treason. After being released the following day, I went straight back to the streets to join a march under the same #FMF banner and was rearrested. The weeks and months that followed, I continued to display my total commitment to Free Black Centered Socialist Education.
A few weeks ago I sat on a panel with Judge Dennis Davis, Rhodes University VC Sizwe Mabizela amongst others, as part of Think!Fest at the National Arts Festival. The question posed was “Is Free Higher Education Possible?”. The debate was reduced to economics, and whilst I refocused the debate towards ending the totality of the anti-black system, I was careful to prove that if we dealt with white-corruption we would have hundreds of billions of rands that could be allocated to the unemployed youth and ending the anti-black commodified education system. Part of the statistical analysis I used included the Black First Land First (BLF) White Corruption Report and specifically the R26 billion stolen at the latter stages of apartheid from the reserve bank.
Last week I was part of the BLF visit to the Public Protectors office to demand feedback on the matter of R26 billion stolen, as well as state capture relating to the appointment of Pravin Gordhan, by the likes of Maria Ramos and Johann Rupert. This lead to me, as part of the #BLF26, being arrested and imprisoned for 7 days in Pretoria Central Prison, where I encountered broken black youth. In prison we (#BLF26 accused) met black wardens who spoke of the anti-black system that maintains them at a junior employment level, while their white counterparts enjoyed senior rank. We heard of inmates awaiting trial for as long as 10 years and how they were being told by racist magistrates that they will get old and die in prison.
A week before we arrived, an awaiting trial prisoner upon visiting the clinic was denied medical attention and the next day he died. This information was relayed to us while Oscar Pistorius walked accompanied by two guards from his special cell to the clinic. This was his daily routine. You see Pistorious’ total sentence (6 years) for murder is less than the time many awaiting trial prisoners are serving before any form of justice is received. Pistorious received bail, yet it was known from the onset that he killed another human. Pistorious’ enjoys full rights and elevated levels of care even though he killed a person, yet we were reminded from the first moment we entered prison that we have “no rights here (in prison)”.
The anti-black prison system is a concentrated expression of society – one encounters intelligent black people who are subdued into animalistic ways as a form of survival within the ruthless bludgeoning of the black being in the anti-black racist box known as prison.
One awaiting trial prisoner who uses nyaope, in some weird way argued that a particular white prisoner was actually black; stating “he likes to be around black people” and “he is a good guy”, “he has (a) tv”, and “he looks after us.” Of course we recognised that the socio-economic power the white person enjoys was the factor that the black inmate was seduced by, so as to support his addiction and sustain his escapism from the anti-black conditions. Within 24hrs that same white prisoner tried to assert power over the black inmate and the rest of us to become the controlling force in the cell. He failed because Black Consciousness adherents took a principled decision to remove him (as the inherently racist white) from the cell.
Through these experiences I used my time in prison to think about what it means to want Free Black Centered Socialist Education, and how it is impossible to not link that struggle through the black youth who I encountered in prison, and to the return of the R26billion stolen by white people.
I argue that all black people in prison are there because we live within an anti- black system where the primary charge is being black. I argue that the lifting of the charge of being black is only possible when white people are charged as thieves for everything that they have stolen including the R26billion, until all the resources, including money and most critically land, are returned and used to create a social order including free black centred socialist education, then and only then will the possibility of black people being human become a reality.
The fight for Free Black Centered Socialist Education is thus also the fight for the return of money, and in truth, all resources including land stolen by white people.
My call to the black youth across occupied Azania is to heed the clarion call for Free Black Centered Socialist Education, to demand that the Public Protector complete the investigation into the R26billion stolen, and that the black youth fight for the decriminilisation of being black which is rooted in ending the world as we know it and delivering a society that puts the black majority first.
Lindsay Maasdorp is the National Secretary for Student Affairs, Black First Land First Student Movement (BLF-SM)