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We are the (step)children of the Empire, watering the seeds of disunity as we trend at all costs

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Busani Ngcaweni is Principal of the National School of Government.

The greatest achievement of imperialism (including apartheid) was to plant the permanent seed of division among the oppressed. At the extreme end, are those who want to shine through pseudo-radicalism. They too are servants of the Empire.

We are the (step)children of the Empire; ours is a struggle for relevance and survival, from which we derive accommodation.

This material disposition largely determines which side we are on in the high stakes of political factionalism and self-preservation. Even for those with the propensity to deploy evidence, it rarely matters unless they degenerate into absurdity.

This causes a stampede in the cold search for “likes”, validation, credentials, recognition and association – “Ah! Leadership” the masses must recognise. It breeds envy and dislike for those who have taken the high seat at the dinner table ahead of us, where we believe we belong.

We are not driven by an ideology, a deep belief in a particular ideal, which we are willing to sacrifice for.

In fact, as one leader once said, “there is no idea worth dying for” in our movement today; so those who kill, do so for greed.

We are driven by the pursuit of relevance and survival. Hence, we want to associate only with particular people who purport to be key holders, acting like choreographed armatures, and be outlandish in order to “emerge”. It is the game of expediency; our political oxygen which keeps us current and relevant.

We are in fact the (step)children of the Empire.

We desire to live opulently like the citizens of the Empire, yet the system and the means do not permit it. After all, the system was designed to divide us; to make us loathe and even annihilate one another.

But we behave like the highly prized first-born; every man and woman for himself and herself; fighting to be acknowledged and exempted – amazemtiti.

Amazemtiti are adjuncts to the Empire and all the coloniality it represents – conspicuous consumption, greed, patriarchy, epistemicide and special status which gives access to VIP clubs and C-suite (executive) offices. They desire to trend, severally, not collectively, with their community.

After all, space in the Empire is limited. High walls surround the gated metropolis, so we must actively engage in a war of attrition to narrow competition for space at the dinner table of “the chosen few”.

At the extreme end are those who want to shine through pseudo-radicalism. They too are servants of the Empire whose main occupation is to divide black people. Daily, they toil in search of the lowest uncommon denominator among black people.

Their point of reference: liberal history which operates a sorting machine of heroes, villains and collaborators among black people – all with the strategic intent of stripping them of any enduring historical figure to hold on to while the arch of racial capitalism sinks, without life jackets on board.

Deep down, none of us wants unity, for the status quo keeps us ahead.

Indeed, we are the (step)children of the Empire.

We profess love for Mama Miriam Makeba but deride her when she sings:

So Westwind with your splendour,
Take my people by the hand,
Spread your glory sunshine off,
And unify my promised land,
Unify us don’t divide us,
Unify us don’t divide us,
Unify us don’t divide us,
We’re tired of fighting,
Unify us don’t divide us.

Aside from its sordid achievements of manufacturing black poverty, inequality and dividing us along racial lines, the greatest achievement of imperialism (including apartheid) was to plant the permanent seed of division among the oppressed.

“Divide them so they fight among themselves while we run the economy and exploit their labour,” was the oppressor’s central motif.

Hence, since the early days of anticolonial resistance, the principal object of political mobilisation was to unite the dispossessed by creating political platforms through which they would fight against their exclusion from the national body politic.

It is, therefore, logical to deduce that the principal agents of counter-revolution are those who water the seeds of division.

Therefore, mates, when you see me slide into puppetry and start doing divisive things, know that I am a (step)child of the Empire who negates the very idea of unity in order to occupy pole position at the foot of the exclusive gates of the Empire. I am, first and foremost, about relevance and survival. I need to be validated and recognised, “Ah! Leadership”.

My currency is derived from disunity and in bandying about absurdity that passes for radical ideas.

I actively fertilise and water the seeds of disunity every day, instead of pursuing a common course for unity and national reconstruction.

Like you, my comrades, I am a (step)child of the Empire. Our common pain notwithstanding, I draw my vitality from disunion.

Thus we submit:

Black people have common pain, but lack common purpose.

For colonialism and apartheid eroded the bonds that bind us.

Black people have a common enemy – social and economic injustice. Yet we lack a common course.

For oppression taught us prejudice and indifference.

Black people have a common history, but lack vision of a common destiny.

Our bonds lie in ruins beyond the high gates of the Empire, scattered to the four winds.

We ought to have a common destiny – liberation, epistemic and economic freedom. Yet we squabble on along the path to emancipation.

Our condition is uneasy. We take oppressive conditions too lightly. We want to trend at all costs – a gate pass to comfort – at the expense of solidarity.

Oh blinkered (step)children of the Empire, the future belongs to the united! DM

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