Lead Opinion

White South Africans, it’s time to return the land

IN THE crying game of privilege, white tears matter. White tears will fall, with great lavish, when land is taken back from us by the rightful owners. Despite marathon opportunity to return stolen land to black South Africans, we have failed. Nor do we, as white South Africans, show any resolve to do so.

When justice finally collapses our entitlement and privilege in South Africa, I will not weep. I will rejoice.
Because entitlement and privilege are brutes which rose illegitimately on the arc of racism, downgrading
blackness to junk status in the supersizing of white fortunes.

White South Africans pedestrian-pass black poverty on the fringes of ‘our’ suburbs as if this poverty is not our business. Yet the welts of poverty and inequality in our post-democracy panorama, is the work of apartheid
and colonial plunder.

 

 Kim Heller

A hand-craft of exploitation by white settlers which imposed a life sentence of poverty on the majority of black South Africans. When our land is expropriated, without compensation, I will not sob, I will support this, without
reservation, because we are not the rightful owners of land in South Africa.

Historically, whites robbed black South Africans of land and this fractured families and fortunes and denigrated black dignity and culture. Today, in what some call a free South Africa, black South Africans are squatters on their own land, while we as white South Africans live as squire on land our forefathers stole.

Today, in what some call a free South Africa, a real-time game of monopoly continues with white South Africans holding the lion’s share of land and where vast expanses of white wealth and unrelenting sweeps of black poverty
defy economic liberation. On 27 May 2017, in what is probably the keenest expression of radical economic transformation this year, a National Land Imbizo was held in Molofo, Soweto.

‘Today, black South Africans are squatters on their own land, while we as white South Africans live as squires on land our forefathers stole”

The initiative, spearheaded by the Black First, Land First (BLF) Movement and supported by many other black organisations, lucidly voiced how the everyday anguish of black South Africa and the omnipresent poverty and violence in townships, squatter camps and rural villages are the direct product of landlessness.

The President of BLF, Andile Mngxitama said; “The bones of our ancestors are crying out for land. They are not resting in peace. The bones of Sikhukhune, Shaka, Nyabela, Hintsa, Moshoeshoe, Cetshwayo, Nghunghunyane arecalling for land now! “The spirit of Bambatha, Sobukwe, Biko, Mantatise, Nzinga, Nehanda, Tsietsi Mashinini, Kgotso Seatlholo cry over the centuries across the African continent for land to be returned! “It is the land that gives us life and when we die, it’s the land that takes care of our bodies. Without land we are nothing! With land we are everything!”

BLF president Andile Mnxgitama BLF members

The National Imbizo’s Land Declaration provides a programme of action for the expropriation of land without compensation, on the backbone of black unity beyond party political association.

The Land Declaration notes the lack of remorse of white people for slavery, colonialism, apartheid and land theft and how the comfort and wealth enjoyed by white South Africans today is a direct profit of  the oppression, exploitation and land dispossession of the black majority.

The Land Declaration calls on whites to abandon arrogance and cooperate in the return of stolen land.
Mngxitama says whites must meet in their own Land Imbizo, before the end of 2017, to resolve the return of land to its rightful owners. My dear white South Africans, it is time to return land. Let us heed this call for a white Imbizo on land.

Whether we are company directors, top business executives, CEO’s, ordinary workers, religious leaders, farmers or teachers, employed or unemployed, students or learners, we are all children of privilege. We are all beneficiaries of a loyalty club dating back to 1652, which rewards us daily, at the expense of our “fellow” black South Africans.
It is a crying shame that we as white South Africans sprint with great enthusiasm to protest marches on alleged state corruption, yet appear totally motionless on land theft. Mngxitama says ‘the biggest and most evil corruption is land theft –this is the mother of all corruption!’ and that we ‘cannot heal if the land is not returned’.

The Rainbow Nation and its artificially sweetened wand of  social cohesion and reconciliation has harmed, not healed us for it has dulled the call for land expropriation.

The Rainbow Nation has long gone into overtime and it is time for us, as white South Africans to discover our moral compass and to step forward, in a collective burst of ethical consciousness to facilitate the return of land which was taken by our fore-fathers not through facilitation, but through force, coercion and trickery.

Land return and economic liberation does not need the consent of white people and so the fact that black South Africans are still allowing us to even discuss the return land is a sign of their humanity not ours. Let us find our moral compass and return the land. The return of stolen land, will free us all.

Kim Heller is a communications strategist and activist

This column first appeared in The New Age and African Times

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