Is Julius Malema  the only person prepared to tell the truth around here?

Julius bemoaning the under-representation of “Africans” and/or “black people” in the economic cluster:

We [black people] cannot just be reduced to security and the very important issue of economy is given to minorities…. Minister of police, minister of intelligence, minister of justice — [they are] all Africans. But in the economics cluster, it’s minorities. We welcome that (the appointment of Gill Marcus to the SARB) … but we would have expected once again an African child to occupy that strategic position …We need to build confidence in the markets that Africans are also capable of handling strategic positions in the economic sector. As quoted in the Mail & Guardian

Now Julius Malema is the court jester and his words have been repudiated by the king in clear and unambiguous terms:

“We have never looked at things in terms of race and ethnicity but, rather, in terms of people being South Africans” – Jacob Zuma, a few days later.

But it is clear that the clown is not just a clown. His function is to reflect the rump of ANC – or South African – thinking, especially when that thinking is out of line with the constitution or unacceptable in the sort of liberal democratic traditions the ANC has come to prefer to espouse. Thus, the contention is that many in the ANC (and in the intelligentsia the party consists of and represents) are as unhappy as clown Julius is with the fact that the profile economic ministries are in the hands of “whites”, “Indians” and “coloureds”.

I can imagine someone who has known South Africa primarily as the post-Apartheid miracle-with-cool-game-reserves flabbergasted by this stuff.

Whites, Coloureds, Indians and Africans – WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? I thought you were all Africans! Those are defunct Apartheid categories; made up scientific nonsense.

Well sorry to disappoint you, but every South African above a certain age, no matter the colour of their skin or the kink in their hair knows exactly what “race” they are and EXACTLY what “race” every other South African they meet is.

GIll Marcus slaved away in the depths of the ANC’s exile in Lusaka and Trevor Manuel fought policeman in the streets of Cape Town and Pravin Gordhan moved the cadres of operation Vula from place to place and Mac Maharaj was a master of disguise in the great war against the Apartheid beast, but they are not “black people” or, as Julius Malema would have it, they are not even African children.

And it is true. They are not. And only Julius Malema is prepared to say aloud the thing that everyone knows.

All these people derive from groups rigidly defined by the Apartheid state (and the colonial state that it evolved from). All those groups were significantly favoured in comparison to the group defined as “African” by that state and its predecessors. The ongoing consequences of this definition and favouring/retarding survives in the the cultural and economic structure of this world and in the heads of our citizens.

Julius Malema is a politician, obliged to talk in political generalities and abstractions. There is no room here for individuals escaping the categories and weight of their past. Each one of these people, and a myriad others, are seen as representatives; and for Julius and for millions of other South Africans, what they represent is their “race” as defined by Apartheid.

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t struggle against this, assert non-racialism and the constitution, berate those who claim status as “victims” or those who claim superiority. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t shield our children from the corroding effects of this “knowledge of sin” which burdens every South African above the age of about 30.

It just means we all understand the awful court jester. We wish we didn’t, but we do.

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