The weekend saw the birth of yet another movement and reconciled the South African politics with its prodigal son, Andile Mngxitama. BHEKI C. SIMELANE was there as a pen and pad spectator.
“They tell me that it takes nine months for a baby to be born. It’s exactly nine months after we said let’s start a new possibility. So today we are launching our movement and presenting the black agenda to our people.” These were the words of controversial former EFF MP, Black Consciousness Activist and Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile John Mngxitama.
The new baby sprung out of its nappy in freezing damp weather at Uncle Tom’s Hall in Orlando West, Soweto on Saturday. The spectacle, which took place before a crowd of about 1,000 delegates, kicked off slightly later than was scheduled. Mngxitama said the reason for this was that many delegates had transport challenges so they had to be assisted to get there.
Black Consciousness Activist and former EFF MP Andile Mngxitama is the man behind the new movement. While relatively new, the BLF has been fuelling its agenda through Black Opinion, an Mngxitama site widely perceived as pro-Gupta, pro-Zuma.
The clamour that had prevailed as delegates arrived and greeted one another was interrupted by the voice of MC Menzi Maseko who officially declared open the otherwise warm gathering despite the nippy weather. The blacks-only Blacks only Black Agenda would soon be up for adoption. Pastor Xola Skosana of the Way of Life KIlombo in Khayelitsha was one of the speakers. Skosana descended harshly on black male violence against black women and called on the BLF leadership to tackle this scourge urgently.
“We are gathered at a time when the black space for radical black politics is losing its credibility. And this is so because of the ongoing violence inflicted on especially the bodies of black women by men within the black space.”
Skosana said black people must free themselves from the stranglehold of white power and called for unity of the Black Consciousness and Pan-Afrikanist organisations.
“Our eyes have been gauged, the eyes of our minds. We have been wounded beyond measure. Let us find the pillars and bring the house down. Black people must be avenged. The land is not in Parliament. We need to free ourselves from the stranglehold of white power and the preservation of white privilege and return the land to the people. Whiteness has mutated and survived every attempt to destroy it in the last 22 years of our overrated democracy,” Skosana said.
For the most part and from the address of each of the speakers, one would have been certain that this was an event organised by a group of daredevils who were not scared to go beyond the boundaries. But as Pastor Skosana said, “The organising idea of the Black Agenda we are launching today is that free the mind, take the land.”
The platform was thereafter surrendered to Bev Ditsie, activist of the Veteran Social and Women’s Liberation. The eloquent Ditsie beamed on to the stage and immediately delved into the question of black identity before pointing out that South Africa’s leaders sold out the struggle by begging for the struggle in London in 1909.
“Who are we?” Ditsie began her address. “A geographical location called South Africa, that’s who we are, with no sense of self and no vision of who we are or where we are headed. We inherited the rainbow, that thing that’s in the sky that is going to happen soon after this rain. That’s what we inherited, with a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. And we were told that everyone would access this pot of gold as long as you accept that rainbow. Why don’t we ask ourselves where this rainbow comes from? They went over to the queen to ask, please can we be part of the rainbow, but the queen said no, only to eventually give in to their begging. And this is how the ruling party was born.”
Before descending the platform Ditsie made a request for the protection of gay black women against homophobia. She said as black movements move to attain their liberation, they should be wary not to emulate the evil of oppression.
“I would like to touch on this because I am not just black first. I’m a woman and I am also gay and what this means is that we need to be guarding against being oppressors ourselves as we try to attain our liberation,” she said.
Ditsie said communication media such as television, which she said she had been part of for about 20 years, also played a part in brainwashing the minds of black people and sustaining white supremacy.
“Television makes us believe in things that are not there, this rainbow, this nonexistent pot of gold. We are listening to music that tells us that we can wake up in a Bugatti. No, we don’t own shit, what we do is consume. Let us build and own the small things in order for us to own the land,” Ditsie said.
It seemed financial challenges wouldn’t let the event be what they had billed it to be, but still it pulsed. Most of the speakers lamented the absence of “blessers” who could bless the movement with loads of cash to help it grow. “Blessers are a new phenomenon popular among young South African women and men where filthy rich men spoil girls for sexual favours. It’s prostitution in quotes and has got every young person talking.”
Next on the podium was Thabo Ledwaba from the Revolutionary Movement of South Africa, who said the South African Government called for the integration of black people into white supremacy freedom. He said the current government was a government of capitalists with no concept of right or wrong and only recognised profits and what it could get away with.
“The current government negotiated the integration of black people into white supremacy’s capitalist system and they call it freedom. The only chance we have in our hands is a revolution. We must develop a model and take power by any means necessary,” Ledwaba said.
In the absence of “blessers” to toss around loads of cash in between speeches, the platform next beckoned Mngxitama. His hair rigidly upright and largely unkempt as ever, Mngxitama made his way round the panel desk onto the podium, chanting. He began by acknowledging pastor Skosana’s earlier comments that Parliament and the Constitution will not help deliver land. This when the South African Constitution has in recent times been hailed by many as the champion of this democracy following recent groundbreaking judgments.
Mngxitama said the Black Agenda BLF document was a vision for the liberation of black people. Mngxitama presented a series of “innovative proposals” on education, food security and other concerns. He said his proposed solution for education was to turn to Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe for all his A and O level students to come and teach alongside South African teachers and that squatter camps should be destroyed. He said BLF supported initiatives such as the FeesMustFall movement. The BLF’s proposed solution to the housing crisis was the taxing of white homeowners for extra rooms in their homes. “If you do not want to be taxed we will subdivide your house to be shared with the black man,” he said.
On food security, Mngxitama sounded very annoyed that South Africans were being fed unhealthy chicken from the United States and for this, too, whites were to blame.
“On food security we have made it clear we will eat our own stuff. We are unwell because white people are poisoning all the food we eat and their medication makes us dependent.”
Mngxitama lamented the EFF’s remark that they could not fill the stadium. “Our priority is not to fill physical spaces. We have big ideas to liberate black people and to fill our minds and heads.” He said the BLF leadership has encouraged the movement to contest the upcoming elections.
Mngxitama also said changing people’s minds to believe that the problem in South Africa is Jacob Zuma and the Guptas was also the work of white people and warned that whatever they do they should be careful not to mess with the sacred green plant, cannabis, held in high esteem in the BLF. Mngxitama said the government always complains about the economy but wont legalise marijuana, even for medical purposes.
“Colonial stupidity has kept this amazing magical plant given to us by God criminalised. God has given us the plant to help build our houses, to help us meditate and remain peaceful. Cigarettes and alcohol are more dangerous. Please let me defend marijuana. Lets us smoke, comrades, but not abuse it as I know some will abuse the plant. Constantly declaring his admiration for South African poet Don Materra, Mngxitama concluded, “We have lost all the love for the children of white people who have taken our land and our sea. Now the only solution for you to have peace is that they should return our land.”
Movements come with more of the same before they disappear. When the Daily Maverick asked Mngxitama whether his movement brought anything new to the table he said the BLF brought nothing new to the table except to take us back to the path of Sobukwe and Biko. As to what they will do differently, your guess is as good as mine. DM
Photo by Bheki C Simelane.
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