…Of Black Problems & The Inclusion of Others In Solving Them – The Debate Continues


#FeesMustFall brought students of all race groups in the fight for free education

Bongani Ngcobo responds to Kobedi’s response in which he (Kobedi) sought to clarify issues emanating from his original piece http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/need-whites-united-front-fight-poverty-inequality-unemployment-socio-economic-ills/which has generated a fair amount of reaction including an article from Bongani Ngcobo http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/blacks-really-need-include-whites-finding-solutions-socio-economic-problems-affecting/

Kobedi: Just to provide clarity on my initial article. My article is purely about Numbers.
Ngcobo: But there are no numbers unless you wanted to say that it’s not about numbers.

Kobedi. It’s about crafting messages that have a wider appeal to more people in our society INCLUDING WHITES.

Ngcobo: I do agree and I also read …We Need Whites & …. which may have meant crafting wider appeal to whites only and ignoring others!

Kobedi: The more South Africans of all races and social classes buy into a particular issue affecting Black people, the more likely it will win the support of everyone including those who have the resources.

Ngcobo: How do you know this is true ?That was my question. Did I miss the answer in your article? What if they don’t agree, while it may be true, it depends on context or the problem at hand. You cannot set an assumption then use it to conclude that it is true.

Kobedi: At no point does my article portray “whiteness or whites” as a condition for Black success. On the contrary, I portray “whites” as stakeholders in our social discourse just like Indians and Coloureds.

Ngcobo: I fully agree that we need them just as we need other races, ..I see that your definition of black is outdated … “Black people”, “black persons”, or “blacks” are generic terms which mean Africans, Coloureds and Indians who are South African citizens by birth or who have obtained citizenship prior 27 April 1994.

Kobedi: We can’t afford to be enemies.

Ngcobo: I agreed with you. As I said in my earlier response to you, our main stream media seem to perpetuate division by reporting along racial, tribal, sexist and foreign lines.

Kobedi: In fact we don’t have the time and space for that.

Ngcobo: The ‘we’ you are using is the rainbow nation’s “We”. It ignores the fact that our GINI index (0.6,[2014, HSRC review) shows South Africa as the 4th most unequal counter in the world. You can’t speak of “we” to a millionaire when you have no shelter.

Kobedi: We are running out of time to be bogged down with that kind of battle.

Ngcobo: In your article you should have highlighted stories that show that ‘battle’. I fully agree with you that even debating about such issues as we do now, keeps us away from the streets!

Kobedi: The example I made about #feesmustfall talks about how Students managed to attract- again numbers to their cause, numbers that included students from all races firstly, but secondly, students from difference social classes.

Ngcobo: I obviously don’t know how you measured that success but I Agree. The context here is university. Were you expecting white young students not to support their black friends? Those whites saw the need to fight. I doubt if anyone saw a need to actively exclude or invite them for fear of success. In the UCT, Rhodes and Wits cases, it was clear that blacks were the ones who were affected. They did not have to decorate their challenges or say that the problem is not black so as to get support.

Kobedi: All the questions Bongani Ngcobo is asking are answered in the article itself hence I have to wonder whether he really read the whole article or he scanned through it. Or perhaps we could have coined the headline differently to avoid misconceptions.

Ngcobo: I should have read it twice. Yes, your headline seemed misaligned with the content. It would have helped to also state the basis of the article .Which campaigns you felt excluded whites? The number of articles saying poverty is black and maybe suggest the process of inclusion, if possible. Who is excluding who, where, when and how?It is not that obvious to some of us!

Kobedi: If a particular campaign does not attract wider support it will soon wither and die.

Ngcobo: Again I tend to differ. You are making an assertion without providing context and evidence. ‘If those farmers did not have blacks in their campaign their plea will wither and die’

Kobedi: We have many white people championing the course of Black people already. The likes of David Van Wyk, Kim Heller, Carl Niehaus, just to mention a few. Are we brushing them with the same brush then? There are many like them.

Ngcobo: Who is brushing who? It would have helped to state examples of the instances where they were brushed by the same brush and by who as a basis of your article. That is not the issue. I still think that not every campaign can be inclusive and therefore don’t agree with your cause of assumed failure and its solution.

Kobedi: My apologies in advance if I appear to be defending white privilege but I’m not.

Ngcobo: You don’t have to apologise for having a dissenting view. Yes, I think it would have been better if a white person complained that he or she is feeling excluded instead of you acting as their spokesperson. He or she would still have to backup that claim.

Kobedi: OR Tambo said: “We are not fighting against people, we are fighting against a system.” At what point in our struggle did these words lose meaning?

Ngcobo: I am not promoting fighting people either. I suspect you are quoting him out of context. To me that is obvious, he also garnered support from white countries. He and others fought as black men here and did not start by fighting the system with others.

Is this similar to ‘we are fighting a monopoly not a white monopoly’ argument? I hope you understand where I am coming from. Not all whites supported apartheid but the apartheid struggle fought a system of white supremacy, it is difficult sometimes to separate the two. The whites in the ANC understood this and the ANC did not have to say we are fighting supremacy, for fear of upsetting whites. I mention this because it is clear in your article that you also have a problem with people saying things are black.

Kobedi: “Blacks solving their own problems”. It is the statement from Bongani that is actually one of the reasons I wrote the article in the first place. It’s the connotations that underpin his reasoning that I have a problem with – whether I interpret it correctly or incorrectly.

Ngcobo: Not all black problems will be understood and supported by other races and in that case I see no reason to be ashamed of coming up with our solutions instead of debating whether this is a real problem or not. That the solution that I make or apply may come from other races is obvious as there is nothing to prove.

Kobedi: The statement suggests rightly or wrongly that Blacks have some kind of a “Black Volkstaat” where they live and exist in a world far removed from white people’s involvement.

Bongani: No at all, no sane black person I know will ever suggested that. The statement suggests that as we have townships, rural places, etc , for some campaigns on issues that affect such areas we don’t have to include whites.
As an example. You will agree that women feminists have taught us men a lot about inclusiveness and fairness. That somewhere they need the support of men for their campaign is implied and obvious. To write an article saying that their campaigns will die if they continue raising their issues only as women is to undermine them.

Kobedi: It cannot be right. We live in an integrated society. White people live in that integrated society. It’s an inseparable bond whether we like that bond or not. We are part of the same ecosystem and the same value chain.

Bongani: So do, Indians, Coloreds and others… looks like a bad bond at the moment. But I get you. I was worried about the context of your article. Much as we are an integrated society with farmers, I cannot expect them to wait for blacks or others before running their campaign. They are the ones who feel threatened. I am only trying to illustrate the importance of context with this example. Much as most blacks could join such campaigns, they have another fish to fry – they are poor. In an ideal situation one could argue that farmers need blacks to succeed. This may be true but it is irrelevant.

Kobedi: There is no such thing as “Blacks solving their own problems” without any contact whatsoever with white people. It only sounds good on paper.

Bongani: No one is advocating for that. Again this is an obvious fact. This was in the context of them initiating their campaigns within their regions that has nothing to do with excluding whites.

Kobedi: There is only South Africans solving their own problems. Whether we form Black industries, Black Banks and Black-led stock exchanges, THEY WILL ALL FUNCTION WITHIN THE COSMOS of this matrix that includes white people.

Bongani: I fully agree, it’s already happening behind the noise that you are worried about. Even within any black empowerment scheme whites are present as suppliers, advisers, policy makers and so forth. I see no problem with that. The ones that I worked with in such programmess don’t make the blackness an issue as they do see the imbalances. It is worrying that we blacks are ashamed of pointing inequalities and prefer shielding behind the rainbow flag just like most racists do.

Kobedi: And what I am saying is that when that happens, the nature of such contact shouldn’t be adversarial.

Ngcobo: I said its happening already, and we are happy about it.

Kobedi: My apologies in advance if I appear to be defending white privilege but I’m not.

Ngcobo: No need to apologise for it is your opinion. My having a different one does not make yours wrong. It would have been better for whites to raise these issues by themselves, maybe it’s not an issue, you are creating one. If it is, then try to convince us. Next time you decide to be a spokes-person for whites, create a background by also mentioning areas where you see such exclusion.

Kobedi: Hence I reiterate, unemployment and poverty is not a Black problem but a South African problem that needs all South Africans to solve.

Ngcobo: Agree, I also like the rainbow nation wish ..it seems to continue to elude us, it will continue to elude us as long as we continue to mask the differences.

Do you realise that currently not ‘all south Africans’ agree as to what the source of high levels of poverty among blacks is ?Is it Zuma’s 783 charges? Or Guptas? Or the 1 trillion cash that is horded by companies to frustrate the economy? Is it colourless monopoly? Is it the greedy black elite? Or the corrupt blacks? Could it be white exclusiveness or skewed land distribution patterns or the lazy blacks? And so on and so forth….
I suspect that as long as the Kobedis of this world continue to use adjectives not numbers in their comparisons, we will continue to equate unequal things. How do you compare many blacks to many whites?

Kobedi: Of course poverty and unemployment affects Blacks more(comparative adjective) than other racial groupings but the entire society suffers from its secondary impacts of high crime levels borne from unemployed people who resort to crime.

Ngcobo: In saying …affects Blacks more you are using a comparative adjective. You have lost me here, are you comparing apples and oranges. Again the numbers will help, 1.8% whites in poverty vs 66.1 % black . You seem to take such discrepancies lightly. Anyway the article is an opinion.

Kobedi: Our Fight Is Against The System
We need to adjust our mindset around who the real enemy is hence the importance of Bongani’s question: “who is the assumed enemy?”. Bongani wants an enemy with flesh and blood but unfortunately that’s what keeps us from moving forward.

Ngcobo: Eish you are using terms like ‘the System’, ‘the enemy’. When I ask you what they are, your answer is: ‘Bongani wants an enemy with flesh and blood but unfortunately that’s what keeps us from moving forward’ and again you misunderstood me. Saying something has white supremacy does not mean one is saying whites are enemies. Saying we may not need whites in some campaigns is also not being anti anyone.

Kobedi: We are dealing with systems. The system feeds on those who are at the bottom of the pyramid regardless of their race and Colour.

Ngcobo: How are we to fight faceless systems whose creators are unknown? Who are at the bottom of the pyramid in this country? Of course no one expects the bottom to have 100% certain race or colour.

Kobedi: Black elites behave exactly the same way as their white counterparts because of the system they inherited. Instead of changing the system, Black elites sat down to enjoy it’s benefits to the detriment of the rest.

Ngcobo: How many do give back? How many don’t? What have their white counterparts being doing wrong?

Are you suggesting black elites have inherited the faceless system ?

Why are you now putting the blame on black elites, where are the others, are you now acknowledging that poverty may be black?

In closing, Kobedi thank you for your valuable input. My response is in no way trying to clarify my position on these issues. I also see a trend among South Africans, especially the ‘born frees’, we try very hard to be balanced in an ubalance country. We avoid any open discussion about the unfairness and inequalities only to later rush to twitter to complain.

We are getting dishonest,… everything is getting decorated…

Kids don’t fail, they don’t achieve. I overheard students on numerous times saying they are attending summer school instead of saying they are repeating a failed module. There is no white monopoly anymore only monopoly. Kobedi now tells us there is no black poverty but poverty. And so on and so forth. I hope I responded to show that much as I like unity, I hate a fake one, and hating any human being as a way of settling scores is just a waste of time.

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  1. To me the initial article seems to suggest that we bury the relevance of the Africanist ideology which Potlako Leballo and Mangaliso Sobukwe stood and died for. It is my view that we can never proxy our own struggles to other races just because we want numbers. A struggle based on principle NOT numbers.
    Kobedi’s argument is that we need to involve whites in our struggles and may I dare to raise the land question and see if the inclusion he want so much will materialize except from the few already converted whites. Ask Comrade Carl how whites treat him on social and online media for advancing the RET discourse which is aimed at levelling the economic playing fields in South Africa.

  2. I see one of the issues posited by the writers as a contributing factor to the “misinterpretation” of the original article is the headline. I, in most cases, write the headlines based on my interpretation of the overall article. In the case that this happens, contributors must simply tell me that I’ve missed the mark and have it rectified.

  3. Thank you Bongani for telling the truth as it should. We are tired of people masking the truth at our expense. I so wish we all can be so honest and stop trying to please the world by lying about our country and how we feel about everything that’s happening right now. Thumbs Up Bongani! I am so proud of you.

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