Defend Truth


Black woman, you are on your own


Millicent Kgeledi is chairperson of the Economic Freedom Fighters Kyalami Ward 132 branch. She wrote this in her personal capacity and the views expressed do not in any way represent the stance of any formation to which she belongs.

How do I defend the glorious black male who is supposed to protect us, now turning against us? How do I explain the murder of poor women in squatter camps killed by the men who are supposed to love them? How do I explain the murder of so-called ‘slay queens’ like Karabo by their boyfriends?

The other day I was chatting with colleagues who had travelled with us from Rusumu in Rwanda to Kisumu in Nairobi. It had been a long trip so when we got to the hotel we all wanted to sit down to a good meal, local beer and good conversation.

At my table was a combination of Africans from different countries – Ghana, Nigeria, and two others from Francophone Africa. So, we are having a light conversation about our countries and debating where the best-tasting fish in Africa is found. The conversation went on and on to while away time…

Then another colleague expressed an interest in visiting South Africa as he hadn’t been to our country and had heard so much about it. I went on to give him a brief on South Africa and what it has to offer.

Another colleague interjected and spoke of his experience in South Africa — it was the elderly gentleman from Francophone Africa whose name I don’t remember. He recounted his experience of being robbed in South Africa after landing at the airport. He was robbed of everything. The robbers even took his beloved hat that night. We sympathised with him, spoke a bit about how to avoid being a victim of crime in any country, including having a panic room in our households for emergencies when we are under siege. The topic went on and on, the food was good, the local Tusker Beer was getting everyone relaxed and it was a good night under the African skies…

However, I had a nagging feeling to clarify this issue that the media has always painted about South Africa as the crime capital of the world. I told them that they should never be afraid to visit our country because of some biased media propaganda. Everyone listened and acknowledged that in fact we must not be swayed by media that seeks to fragment Africa.

Then after some silence, I said, “our statistics indicate that most violent crimes in our country have gone down, including murder”. They said that’s good and positive feedback. Then I said, “however, crime statistics seem to indicate that femicide (murder of women in a violent manner) has increased, including violence against women, particularly violence by black men against black women”.

Then there was silence.

I will never forget the look of these men and women sitting at my table after I said that. It was almost a look of saying “you are lying”. I remember one of the women asking “Why? Why are women being killed?” Everyone was staring at me. I heard another one of the elderly gentlemen asking “what happened? Why are women being killed?” It seemed surreal, it felt as though they thought I was joking.

My natural instinct was to first defend the country of my birth by responding diplomatically. I said to them “our government is in the process of setting up a commission to investigate this unusual new phenomenon and what the causes are.”

I went on to explain that many factors contribute to this, including poverty, an angry black male who was never empowered when the black woman was being empowered, the forgotten black male in his youth etc.

I had to explain that in the process of empowering the black woman, we forgot to empower the black male equally in order to maintain a black male with a strong ego. I explained to them that the black male had not only experienced colonialism, apartheid and now the new era which focused on empowering women to be on par with not only the black male, but the white female.

I explained that it was still a long journey because to date, the poor black woman still is the most disenfranchised South African through the triple oppression system: being born black, female and poor (racial, gender and economic status).

I spent a lot of time trying to explain why the black woman continues to be a victim of violence at the hands of not the white race but the black male. The longer I continued explaining the more I panicked that perhaps I was losing the plot, I should never justify violence against us by those who should be our protectors, despite their difficult circumstances.

I sat back and stopped talking. I am not certain what the rest of the people thought of my justifications and defence. Perhaps they believed my diplomatic responses, I don’t know because they didn’t say much. I think we changed the topic.

But it has nagged me ever since. How do I defend the glorious black male who is supposed to protect us, now turning against us? How do I explain the murder of poor women in squatter camps killed by the men who are supposed to love them? How do I explain the murder of so-called “slay queens” like Karabo by their boyfriends? How do we justify that a man who has spent money on a woman, qualifies to kill/rape her when she doesn’t want him any more? How do I justify the rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana by a much older Post Office worker?

Is it because we forgot to empower these males? How do I ask such questions when I will be vilified by the same black males who will label me a feminist for asking these questions? I will be vilified even by those males who do not commit these crimes. They will say to me: “Milli you are sounding so feminist and anti men. Address the issue, but don’t sound like you are anti men.”

And I sat there miserably, wondering why I am suddenly being labelled a feminist only because I am raising the fact that some black men have turned against the black woman. The men that don’t kill, abuse and rape women, they are the ones telling us that we are exaggerating the current stats, they are the ones who tell us that men are also killed by women when we raise the issue of the alarming stats.

I’m looking for answers, I’m confused as a defender of the millions of glorious black males. I am asking them, the millions who will never harm women physically in any way: who must speak out against those black males who have turned against the poor black woman?

Something tells me, the good black men must take charge of defending all women by admitting that some black men have failed black women.

I will not call such men trash for I will be accused of being a feminist… (the story of an enlightened black woman, mistakenly labelled feminist). DM


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