Taboo debate: For better or worse after Apartheid? – Andrew Kenny

The article below is a reflection of the suppression of free speech in South Africa and the restriction on discussing the reality of life for black people in the country. Author Andrew Kenny references the remarks of Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), and Jonathan Jansen, Professor of Education at Stellenbosch University, who made similar but controversial comments on the topic. Kenny argues that it seems to be taboo to discuss that certain things were better during apartheid, despite the fact that poor black people in certain areas suffered less under apartheid than they do now under the ANC. The article also raises the question of censorship and suppression of facts, and the consequences of speaking out about the reality of the situation, including the potential misinterpretation of statements by white supremacists. To read more on this matter, find the article below.

What do the white racists think?

By Andrew Kenny

Who spoke these words (very loudly) and on what occasion? “South Africa, as a country, was more functional during apartheid than it currently is … Love or hate white people who were in power before 1994, they gave us a functional country. In as much as the Nationalist Party was cruel, they left us with a functioning state, and then the ANC, the corrupt ANC, took over.”

The speaker was Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). The occasion was last year on the tenth anniversary of the Marikana massacre, which happened on 16 August 2012, when 34 black mineworkers were shot dead by the police. Similar, although quieter, more thoughtful, remarks were made in a recent Times Live article by Jonathan Jansen, Professor of Education at Stellenbosch University. Jansen’s comments caused more controversy than Mathunjwa’s. Perhaps this was because the title of his article was, “Be honest, are you better off now than under apartheid?” (I don’t know whether the title was his or of Times Live)

Two questions arise. Were some things better under apartheid than now? Are you allowed to say so? The first question is simple. Of course, certain things were better under apartheid. Electricity supply was better. Transnet was better. Passenger rail transport for black workers was better. Black unemployment was lower. Maybe poor black people in the townships and squatter camps were less terrorised by violent crime. The second question, are you allowed to say so?, is more troublesome. It seems you are not allowed to say so. The reasons why you may not are disturbing, showing not only a willingness to curb free speech but a racist disdain for the plight of poor black people under the ANC. We are getting close to the point when, if you say poor blacks are suffering terribly under the ANC, you will be called a racist who wants to bring back apartheid.

Protect white minority rule

Apartheid was nothing other than a system to protect white minority rule and promote Afrikaner nationalism. Its leading theorist, Hendrik Verwoerd, said repeatedly that there was no biological difference between blacks and whites but that whites belonged to a higher civilisation because of accidents of history. I doubt many of his avid supporters believed this. He said blacks and whites needed to be separated by “good neighbourliness” where each would be free to develop its own culture and language. This brotherly love was implemented by guns, whips and bulldozers, and detention without trial. The black majority was forced into a small, fragmented part of the country, while the white minority owned the rest. 

Apartheid was a form of racism based on law, which replaced colonial racism based on prejudice. Cecil John Rhodes was a more blatant racist than Hendrik Verwoerd. Apartheid caused untold suffering and humiliation to the black majority. Under it there was rapid economic growth, rapid industrialism, the world’s best electricity supply and fairly good railways and harbours. By any measurement, some things are worse now than they were under apartheid, and poor black people in certain instances suffer more now than they did under apartheid. Are we allowed to state basic facts, to provide some basic data, to show this? No, we are not. We live in an age where not only the wrong comments are banned, but the wrong facts.

Many of those attacking Jansen accused him of loving apartheid and of saying everything was better under apartheid. This is an outright lie. Some even said that he was same as a Holocaust Denier. Jansen was at pains to say that apartheid was a wicked system denying human rights to blacks. He is a man of the highest integrity, brave and honest, with a fine record of opposing apartheid and all racial injustice. He emphasised that he was speaking mainly about the poor black masses. The black elite, the black bourgeoisie, living in the suburbs with children at white schools, are doing fine, much better than under apartheid. The same is not always true of the black working-class multitudes. Let me make some historical comparisons.

Under Ian Smith, black people did not want to leave Rhodesia. The black people had few political rights but they had enough food to eat, a good chance of getting some sort of job and were never the victims of deliberate government-sponsored mass murder. Under Robert Mugabe, millions of blacks fled Zimbabwe. There is now mass hunger, even starvation, formal unemployment is about 90%, and black civilians were massacred as government policy (Gukurahundi, 1983 to 1987). Are you allowed to state these facts? Are you allowed to say that many things for black people were better under Smith than under Mugabe? Are we not allowed to give the facts about Gukurahundi?

Over and over again, when you try to say these things, when you try to suggest that poor black people are suffering terribly under the ANC, you are told that this might be exploited or misunderstood by white racists. It doesn’t matter what poor black people think. It only matters what white racists think – or what we think they think. You are not allowed to say blacks suffered more under Mugabe than they did under Smith, because white racists might think this proves all black governments are oppressive. You are not allowed to say some poor black people in South Africa suffer more now than under apartheid, because white racists might say this proves how wonderful apartheid was.

I have been censored on a related case over and over again. I am deeply concerned to know why the fates of blacks and whites are so different in South Africa and elsewhere. I believe we cannot begin to understand why unless we realise a fundamental fact, that before the Europeans came to what is now South Africa, there was no writing, no wheel, no modern science, no modern technology, no plumbing and no modern buildings. This had nothing to do race, and everything to do with geology and history. (The geology caused the history.) Every time I have tried to write an article pointing out these facts, it has been banned – with one exception, in Denis Beckett’s Frontline. Why? Two reasons, it seems.

Patronising racism

The first is that black people might be upset to see the facts, because they are like little children who need to be protected from the harsh facts of life. Those poor little black people just wouldn’t understand if you told them the truth about their history. This is the most disgusting racism. This is patronising racism that is more insulting to blacks than upfront racial abuse. The second is – once again – the white racists. The white racists might think there was no writing in South Africa because black people were too primitive to invent writing. The white racists might think that Europe developed before Sub-Saharan Africa because black people are biologically inferior. The white racists might think – and then an endless list of things that white racists might think.

An aside here, on the biology of race. Guess who said this: “Caucasians also have certain characteristics that Negroids do not have but that are ape-like. They have so much hair. Their legs are short in comparison to their upper body.” It was Hendrik Verwoerd, explaining, quite accurately, that in some ways white men (“Caucasians”) are more ape-like than black men (“Negroids”). Actually all humans are apes. To be more specific, we are chimpanzees. There are three types of chimp: the Common Chimp, the Bonobo, and Humans. We are the third chimp, the only remaining species of the large Homo family. Black Africans are thoroughbreds, 100% Homo sapiens. White men are mongrels, about 95% Homo sapiens and 5% Neanderthal. That’s why white men have more body hair than black men. Apes are not monkeys. Monkeys have tails and inflexible shoulder joints; they climb on top of branches in trees, like cats and squirrels. Apes are tailless and have very flexible shoulder joints; they can hang under branches and swing through them. We can’t anymore. Since we descended from the trees and began walking on our hind legs, we lost the strength of our arms.

Free speech

Free speech is in danger today. I believe by law we should be able to say in public anything we want if it is true and is not an incitement to violence. Common law already covers this exception. There should be no laws against hurtful speech, insulting speech or even hateful speech. Disapproval – a mighty sanction – should cover this. Public disapproval, a massive sanction since we fear the frown of our neighbour more than the writ of the censor, should be sufficient to deter us from making horrid remarks about another person.

But today there is increasing censorship of public speech, extending not only to opinions but to facts. The green establishment wants to ban data showing that rising CO2 does not cause dangerous climate change. The big drug corporations wanted to ban publication of their own data showing the dangers of their Covid vaccines. Above all, there is enormous pressure to ban certain opinions, observations, and facts on race. There is obsessive concern about the thoughts and responses of white racists. We mustn’t tell the truth about race because the white racists might misunderstand it, might exploit might it, might use it for some nefarious purpose.

Why do we grovel to the white racists? Why do we allow them to make us censor ourselves? Why don’t we just say what is true and important, and allow them to make any stupid racist response they like – which we can then expose as nonsense? Why don’t we let them make fools of themselves? Why don’t we laugh at them? Why don’t we allow them to hang themselves on their own words?

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR.

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