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Know your enemy

By Ncedisa Mpemnyama

This article was submitted as part of the Think For Yourself competition.

The date is April 12, 2017. I’ve been awake since 10am and glued to my TV set.

Today all mainstream political parties are in the streets in Pretoria in the #ZumaMustGo national march. Amongst them is the official opposition which is led by one Hellen Zille, or “Nontsapho”, a name she was apparently given by blacks of Cape Town who follow the Democratic Alliance (DA). Nonstapho recently denied crudely the negative impact colonialism has had on the black majority in South Africa.

Then there’s the Congress Of The People, i.e. Cope, led by Terror Lekota, a sorry race denying former Black consciousness adherent who was famously part of the Bethal trial, who now claims the whites who took the land through force have title deeds.

There’s also the former Transkei leader Bantu Holomisa, who left the ANC to form an underwhelming banal political party, a military man trapped in a whirlwind of past masculine military glories. He also strains to affirm that they want the president of the country to step down and equally to stop using race as a subterfuge to his ‘constitutional delinquency’ which has supposedly harmed the image of the country.

Then there’s the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who claim that even though there was racist symbols and racist white people in the earlier Save SA march, they want Zuma to go for having fired, among many others, Pravin Gordhan – a white capital minister who has Johann Rupert on his ear, owns shares in all the racist multinationals and has delivered treasury to foreign capital whilst the black poor and marginalised struggle to eke out a living on the “second economy”, as our Yeats loving former President, Thabo Mbeki, used to call it.

All these political parties and their white owned civil society counterparts claim the march is to uproot corruption, best exemplified by the marriage of Zuma and the Gupta family, a marriage they call Zupta, which they shout with rage at anyone who cares to listen.

The EFF’s vice President, Floyd Shivambu, once called the Gupta family the newest colonisers in one of his tawdry and conceptually lazy articles. Apparently, the president is cooning for this Gupta family.

In all this mess one is left wondering why there is such a need to push the narrative away from race in this way? When the very same whites they are marching with where found to be racist when the #RhodesMustFall and #Feesmustfall uprisings came forth wherein young black people in tertiary spaces fought the strangulation of racist institutional mores in universities apart from its exclusionary measures which are in themselves founded by the very same racist ideas. The current narrative is intentionally manufactured so that black people are confused as to who their real enemy is.

This confusion on who is the enemy now reminds me of a song from one of my favourite Hip Hop crews called Dead Prez titled Know Your Enemy.

The chorus goes something like this, “know your enemy/ know yourself, that’s the politic/ George Bush is way worse than Bin Laden is”.

These lyrics capture exactly the state of the march currently dominating national discourse today. In the song as needs be with the march in question, a simple question still needs to be asked like Thomas Sankara asks in a speech found in the book, Sankara Speaks, “who are the enemies of the people?”

A supplementation must also accompany the question, are the enemies still white and if so what does it mean to have a black government with nominal power, and how do those at the receiving end of this racist confusion read clearly who we should attack first and who we should persuade and then deal with when persuasion fails.

It seems to me Thomas Sankara was seeing this #ZumaMustGo march when he said these heartbreaking words when he was leading the Council of Popular Salvation (CSP) at a mass rally in Ouagadougou, 26 March 1983, “Who are the enemies of the people? The enemies of the people are the forces of obscurantism who, under spiritual cover, under cover of tradition, are exploiting the people instead of genuinely serving their moral interests, instead of genuinely serving their social interests. They must be combated; we will combat them.”

In the same speech Sankara goes further to expose the imperialistic side to the enemies. He speaks: “The enemies of the people are also outside our borders. They base themselves on unpatriotic people here in our midst at every level of society- civilians as well as in the army; men and women; young as well as old; in the town as well as the country. The enemies of the people are there. The enemies outside the country are there: these enemies are neo colonialism; they are imperialism.”

So Sankara observes that, basing itself on those unpatriotic people, on those who have rejected their homeland, those who have rejected Upper Volta – who have, in fact, rejected the people of Upper Volta – the enemy outside the country is organising a series of attacks. Attacks in two phases: the nonviolent phase and the violent phase.

What is most important in Sankara’s reading is the part wherein he reads what phase they are in in Upper Volta a.k.a Burkina Faso at the time of the speech. He deems the time of the speech the nonviolent phase, which will be followed by a violent one which later claimed his life.

I believe the #ZumaMustgo march is a branch of imperialist attack to confuse our people and facilitate the second phase, or the less violent coup experienced by President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. Both these two ways of regime change seem to be preoccupied with creating raceless narratives of unproven corruption that works the masses into a directionless rage which will give them new heroes that plunge them deeper in a poverty circle.

If the Gupta family is looting let it be investigated and put in prison. But the family must not be allowed to be a scapegoat for all the ills of this country which started in 1652. When President Jacob Zuma, during the State Of the National Address (SONA) called for all black political parties to suspend their differences and agree on the land question, he summarily threw down the gauntlet on imperialism in and outside the country. He invoked a discussion that has long been overdue, i.e. the unification of blacks for economic liberation, which Steve Biko was nabbed unfortunately trying to facilitate.

The disturbing part about today’s spectacle is that all mainstream black parties accept race denialism for their narrow anti-Zuma agenda which locates him and the Gupta family as the primary enemy. This invitation to this colour-blind agenda is crude and tragicomic. We find the black masses with burning hungry stomachs mobilised for narrow ends. Our legitimately angry people are tricked into dancing and sweating in the streets with white racists who hold placards depicting us and the President as monkeys. This is one of the central tenets of the disheartening machinations of imperialist political expediency of EFF and all the black political parties that where at the Union buildings today.

My parting shot is to invoke the black American scholar Nelly Fuller Jr, who captured perfectly today’s shenanigans when he said: “If you don’t understand white supremacy which is racism and what it is and how it works, everything else that you understand will only confuse you.”

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